"Find a mentor for yourself and become a mentor to someone else. Paying it forward never felt so personally rewarding."
-Marichal Gentry, C'86 and keynote speaker at Beyond the Gates
Building skills and relationships are the overarching goals of Beyond the Gates: Preparing for Life and Work after Sewanee. Skills are taught in interviewing, searching for jobs, career readiness, graduate and professional school admission, networking etiquette and business dining etiquette. Students easily understand that they will gain these skills just from reading the weekend's agenda.
What is harder to convey until the weekend is experienced, though, is the level of interest and care that the alumni and parent participants have for them and for their future plans. Lisa Howick and I spend about a day and a half working to ensure that each student is carefully paired with a weekend mentor, a practice interviewer, and a table host, all of whom have some connection to a career or life interest of the student. A great deal of mentoring happens for each student, and relationships begin here that provide lasting value for each person.
Attendees are provided an in-depth directory of alumni and parents that doesn't merely list their current professional position but also details past jobs, graduate or professional schools attended, boards they serve on, organizations where they volunteer, prior cities they've lived in and regions of the country or the world of interest to them. Armed with this information, students seek out alumni/parent participants during networking breaks and even arrange to walk with a particular alum from building to building. There is the opportunity to find mentorship on a wide variety of topics.
In Marichal Gentry's keynote address, he encouraged us to "find a mentor" and to "become a mentor." After attending the weekend, 100 percent of the students say that their involvement in Beyond the Gates makes them want to help future Sewanee students. Since we're in the seventh year of the program, it's been fun to be able to see past student participants return as alumni, eager and ready to give back by helping current students. Beyond the Gates provides one more way for a "never-failing succession" of support to be created for Sewanee individuals.
The text of Marichal Gentry's talk is available.