Garrett Arnold says the skills he acquired through a new mentorship program sponsored by the Arkansas Tech University Alumni Association and ATU Norman Career Services helped him land a full-time job before he completed his degree.
Perhaps even more valuable were the life lessons he learned along the way.
“You will only get out of this program what you put into it,” said Arnold, who is from Camden and studied human resources at ATU. “You can’t walk into it thinking everything will happen for you. You have to put in the effort on your end.”
The ATU mentorship program is open to any Arkansas Tech senior or junior seeking assistance as they prepare to transition from college to career. Students are paired with ATU alumni mentors who have experience on a similar career path.
Regular meetings — in-person and/or via distance technology — allow the mentee to ask questions and the mentor to provide advice on the career decision-making process as well as information about how to land a first job after graduation.
A 2022 graduate of Arkansas Tech, Arnold was hired as safety coordinator for PAM Transport in Tontitown. He credits improvements to his resume and cover letter that came about due to his participation in the mentorship program for his early career success.
Arnold’s mentor is Steve Fryer, who is serving as president of the ATU Alumni Association for 2022 and was inducted into the ATU Hall of Distinction earlier this year.
“The mentorship program is much more than academics,” said Arnold. “It started out as Steve helping me find out what companies want from a human resources manager, and it turned into more of a personal mentor. We talked about all aspects of life, developing myself and becoming a better person. Steve is one of a kind. You can’t forget him. He’s constantly networking when he doesn’t mean to. He cares about people. He wants to help people grow and become the best version of themselves. I found a lifelong mentor.”
Fryer said he receives more than he gives by participating as a mentor.
“This has been the best experience for me,” said Fryer. “I know we’re giving back to the students and they are gaining a lot from this, but we gain a lot too. It’s so rewarding and so fulfilling to share the experiences I’ve had with my mentees and to see that I am actually helping them. You can’t describe how great the feeling is. You get to give back, and the energy you get from the young people is amazing.”
Kaitlyn Bryant of Hattieville, a senior in the ATU hospitality administration program, learned about the mentorship program through her involvement in ATU Student Government Association. As a mentee, Bryant has networked with event planners associated with the Walt Disney Company and the Academy Awards.
“I never thought I would be able to visit with people at such a high level,” said Bryant. “They gave me such good advice that I will be able to take with me as I start my career. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone. With a little determination, you can accomplish a lot. Go for it. You never know what opportunities it might give you.”
A member of the ATU Class of 2023, Larry Jacobs is a business data analytics major from Maumelle. He came to the mentorship program seeking assistance with his resume, to make connections and to assess potential career paths.
“I’d say the best benefits are the connections you get by networking and developing your career skills with someone who is in the field,” said Jacobs. “I’ve been able to figure out which aspect of business data analytics I want to go into by learning about category analysis and figuring out which products fit well together. I’ve also learned how to talk with senior executives and show my skills as a worker on a personal level instead of it feeling like a script.”
ATU alumni interested in serving as a mentor may call (479) 968-0242 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. ATU students interested in joining the program may call (479) 964-0843 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
“The mentor is a friend,” said Fryer. “You can be a sounding board or a shoulder to lean on. More than anything, it’s a person who’s been through exactly what the student is going through. It’s a person who can give advice, guidance and counseling. When you are a junior or senior, you have questions about what is next and how to prepare for what is next. We can help with that.
“You see the energy and optimism of the Arkansas Tech students, and it gives you hope and absolute belief that the future is going to be great,” continued Fryer. “These young people…we’re going to turn them loose on the world and they’re going to make a difference. That feels so good.”