Center for Career Development Reinstates Engineering Alumni-Student Career Mentoring Program

POSTED ON: September 13, 2021

Student Career Mentoring Program

The Alumni-Student Mentoring Program was reintroduced in August in preparation for the Fall 2021 semester. It aims to foster communication between students and alumni, according to Jolie Woodson, Ed.D., Director, Center for Career Development.

“The Program provides students with an alumnus to speak candidly with about their professional interests, questions, and concerns,” Woodson said. “It gives students a safe space for career-related discussions that is supportive and free of judgement.”

The Program began in 2014 and ran for four years before taking a brief hiatus. During that time, nearly 100 alumni mentored approximately 200 students. Facilitated by the Center for Career Development, it returns this academic year with support from the Albert Nerken School of Engineering and the Office of Alumni Affairs & Development. It matches engineering students with an alumni mentor for a yearlong one-to-one professional mentoring relationship.

The goal of the Program is to provide engineering students with additional support in identifying and pursuing their career goals through professional networking with experienced alumni of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering. As discussed in the Strategic Plan, successful leaders in the field of engineering require not only deep disciplinary knowledge, but also the ability to communicate, work in teams, think critically, and be innovative. Mentoring is a way to develop and hone these skills. Mentoring relationships are intended to be professional in nature with the goal of helping students transition seamlessly from an academic environment to the workplace and/or to graduate study. While each mentoring pair will work together to determine the best course of action depending on student needs and interests, past student mentees have visited their alumni mentors’ workplaces, conducted informational interviews with their mentors, and discussed a range of topics, including career interests, professional networking, and industry trends. Read what past student mentees have said about the Program below:

"My mentor was really helpful and engaged with the program. He was always enthusiastic about our meetings and introduced me to many people in industry. Overall, I am really glad that I was able to have the opportunity to meet and learn from my mentor."

"My mentor pushed me to explore and expand my boundaries, both professionally and personally. I've come out more confident, eager to learn, and ready to tackle new opportunities. Listening to my mentor’s experiences helped me understand how I should handle myself professionally. He was very helpful with any sorts of questions I had about industry."

"It was a wonderful opportunity that I got to know my mentor and he helped me make some life changing decisions.”

To participate in this Program, both alumni and students will fill out an application, and are later matched  based on their career paths, organizational affiliations, and shared interests. Both mentors (alumni) and mentees (students) must commit to a full academic year-long mentoring relationship (September – May) and be willing and able to meet (in-person or virtually) at least once per month. The Center for Career Development will provide suggested activities and materials to support mentoring relationships and will check in with mentor-mentee pairs periodically. Students are responsible for scheduling time to talk and/or meet with their alumni mentors and for initiating communication. 

Encouraging communication via the combination of both in-person and virtual interactions, according to Woodson, will aid in developing relationships with alumni, which is crucial to students’ success.

"Cooper alumni have achieved success in a wide array of professional fields and roles. In sharing their wisdom with students via mentoring relationships, they are paving the way for students to pursue their own paths with curiosity and confidence,” she said. “Alumni mentors open professional doors for students through their networks, encouragement, and constructive feedback." 

Woodson hopes to match at least 50 student-alumni pairs and welcomes more applicants. To learn more about how the Program works, please read the following program overview & FAQ for students and alumni.

To apply to be an alumni mentor, please submit your application here. If you are a current engineering student and you would like to apply to be a mentee, please review the information here. 

Please contact Jolie Woodson ( in the Center for Career Development with questions.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.