Maybe it just seems like it, but go to most social media and you’ll find the DePaul ASK Program and its energetic director, Gina Sian (CDM ’96), making its point, which is simple: just ask. Last year over 1200 alumni mentors helped out over 1300 students. That’s a lot of questions and answers—but it’s an awful lot of help, and every minute and word of it is appreciated.
“Managing ASK, I have the opportunity to collaborate with students, alumni, faculty and staff from a variety of fields,” reflects Sian; “I am constantly inspired by everyone’s career aspirations and desire to serve, and make a difference in the world.” DePaul’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge Program—ASK—brings together DePaul students who want career advice and DePaul alumni who have advice to share. ASK is not a recruiting office: it does whatever it takes to get students ready to confidently pursue their career interests and will be well prepared to succeed. One at a time, person to person.
For students there is a wide range of offerings made available by volunteer alumni: one-to-one mentoring and career advice is at the heart of the program, and ASK has mentors for just about any major at university. But there’s also a networking breakfast series with speakers on topics of interest to students, workshops, mock interviews, office visits and “shadow days,” a “lessons learned bank” of distilled alumni experience, and a variety of on-line career information and services (“Would you hire you?”), to name a few. And there’s the ASK blog at the ASK website, which has pages of stories, experiences and mini-lectures on common and not-so-common career questions.
For alumni the opportunity to participate offers wide and satisfying latitude: leading a seminar, answering career questions, offering practice interviews, providing some coaching before an interview or a job fair—whatever you’re comfortable with. The one-to-one mentoring is carefully managed: mentors set their own parameters on when and how to help, set the number of students, list areas of expertise, and what they can offer. After a brief orientation, mentors post a profile on the ASK website; students can select a mentor that “fits,” and the learning and helping begins.
“One of the benefits [for students] of connecting with ASK mentors is that they were once DePaul students too. They are more especially motivated to help because they have been in their shoes, maybe even sat in the same classrooms or learned from the same professors,” adds Sian. Not everyone can contribute a building or a scholarship fund, but everyone can help one student.
To check out the program, visit the ASK website (http://ask.depaul.edu) For more information on ASK—and L&Q members are always encouraged to pitch in—contact Gina Sian at firstname.lastname@example.org or the program at ASK@depaul.edu. Just ask.