For alumna Sabrina Hyde, serving as a mentor through St. Michael’s new AMPlify program is a great way to give back and reconnect with her alma mater. “I decided to become a mentor because I felt disconnected,” Hyde said while attending the AMPlify launch party in early October. “I know I would have appreciated something like this when I was a student. It would have been nice to have someone to talk to about work-related concerns.”
Hyde graduated with a BSc (Hons) in immunology and cell and molecular biology in 2017, then completed an MSc in molec-ular genetics and, finally, earned a master’s degree in public policy from the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto.
Today, she works as a policy officer for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Her path took her in a different direction than she had imagined in first year, a reality that she thinks would be useful for students and recent graduates to hear. She also imagines a place for herself in advising women working in male-dominated fields.
One of the students Hyde chatted with at the launch party was Rayan Awad Alim, a 3rd-year computer science student who came to the launch because she’s considering her options post-graduation and is thinking about doing consulting work.
I’m here to see what the program is like and what it has to offer,” she said. “It seems like a really useful idea.”
The response from curious students and mentors “exceeded our expectations,” says Karina
Stellato, who is Campus Life Coordinator and a member of the team who is behind the project’s launch. Since October, there have been 142 mentee registrations, with 61 recent grads, as the program is open to graduates as far back as 2020 and 81 students.
The initial AMPlify meet-and-greet was abuzz with student participants and many of the 56 alumni members who signed up to serve as mentors. Attendees wore colour-coded name tags to make it easier to find others from the same field and interests, allowing students to put faces to interests and taking a bit of the awkwardness out of the initial introduction. An appealing spread of snacks and beverages also helped create a relaxed mood.
What mentors and their pupils are entering into is not the standard experience, says Stellato.
Students have secure access to a protected directory of mentors where they can see career details and watch brief introductory videos. Mentors and students are not matched up in advance but students are encouraged to connect via email or LinkedIn to any number of people on the roster, Stellato says. This broadens students’ choice and allows them to reach out for a variety of reasons.
While some will want to speak with someone directly employed in the student’s chosen field, mentees may also want to connect with a mentor who built a career far from home, or even to someone who graduated without knowing exactly what their career path would be.
Mentors, who have between five and 15 years’ experience, work in a broad variety of fields, including those that fall under STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education), teaching, law, consulting and various roles in the civil service.
From the mentor perspective, meetings are intended to be casual — a quick coffee, perhaps, or an exchange over LinkedIn — rather than a formal schedule of meetings, and email advice is happily welcomed. Should mentors find themselves receiving more requests than their schedule allows, they have the option of having their names hidden on the secure list, being added back as time allows.
There are plans to expand the program as it settles into place, Stellato says, and there will be other social events planned throughout the year to allow students and mentors to get together as a group.
St. Michael’s Magazine plans to check in with participants throughout the year to offer a sense of this exciting new program and how it is panning out. Should you wish to become involved, please check stmikes.utoronto.ca in June, when we’ll be accepting a new cohort of volunteers.
This article was originally published in the 2023 Fall/Winter issue of St. Michael’s Alumni magazine.