Responding to requests from his students for greater access to career advice and networking opportunities, Steven Schreiner, dean of the School of Engineering, implemented an Alumni Mentoring Program in his school last fall. The program partners TCNJ engineering graduates with current junior engineering majors looking to solidify their resumes, find jobs, or gain entrance to graduate school.
“For students, the program offers a great way to become aware of career opportunities and…interact with our existing alumni network,” said the dean. He added that there are several advantages for the alumni involved, beyond the obvious personal satisfaction they can get from mentoring students.
“Alumni have access to a high-quality pool of potential employees or interns, there is the potential to draw on TCNJ’s engineering faculty and students as partners in research and design projects, and the program offers an excellent way for alumni to re-engage with their alma mater and network with fellow professionals at events,” Schreiner said.
In crafting the program, Schreiner collaborated with founding members of the engineering school’s Fifth Root Society, a group of recent alumni that have pledged their commitment to their alma mater. The dean then solicited further alumni participation last spring, and over the summer partnered each with a student who would most benefit from his or her unique experiences. In October, the mentors and students met for the first time, and though the program is still in its early stages, “Early indications are that it’s been very beneficial to all involved,” Schreiner said.
Mentor Gene Kritzberger ’78 said he’s enjoying the opportunity the program affords him to stay involved with his alma mater. A mechanical engineering graduate, Kritzberger is now the national sales manager for Voith Turbo Inc., a division of Voith GmbH, which is a multi-national, family-run corporation in the mechanical engineering sector. He said his company’s owners encourage employees to engage with colleges and universities, and he’s already had the opportunity to present “Lunch and Learns” at research universities across the country. The opportunity to work closely with a student from his own alma mater was a welcome one.
Kritzberger is mentoring Alexander Yersak, a junior mechanical engineering major. Despite living in central Pennsylvania and traveling often for work, Kritzberger stays in regular contact with Yersak by phone and e-mail. He’s helped Yersak with his resume, offered advice on what classes he can take to improve his marketability, and above all, stressed the importance of keeping his options open when job hunting after graduation. “I told him not to limit himself to jobs in New Jersey,” Kritzberger said.
Caroline Wang ’12, an engineering science major with a concentration in biomedical engineering, said she feels “extremely lucky” to be paired with her mentor, Craig Wentzel ’76, who is vice president of worldwide sales for Berkeley Design Automation, headquartered in Santa Clara, CA. In addition to his bachelor’s in electrical and electronics engineering and technology, Wentzel has an MS in biomedical engineering from Rutgers.
Wang, who is considering attending medical school after TCNJ, explained that while Wentzel has helped her in many ways, the most important advice he’s given her is to have a backup plan. He’s also shown her possible career paths she could consider in the medical field—ones that don’t require an MD, in case she opts not to apply to medical school, she said.
“It’s been such a valuable experience talking with Craig about these things. His advice and guidance have been amazing,” Wang said.
A similar sentiment was voiced by computing engineering major Daniel Camp ’12 about his mentor, Ted Moskalenko ’09, a computer engineering graduate who works in Wharton’s IT department. Camp said Moskalenko not only helped him polish his resume to make it “more professional looking,” but he also passed along information on a job opening and put Camp in contact with the person doing the hiring.
Moskalenko noted that the networking opportunities available through the program have been great, explaining that, at the October kickoff event, he met several students who expressed interest in working for him on development projects he’s overseeing.
“I wish this program had been available when I was a student,” continued Moskalenko. “It’s nice to have a mentor who you can bounce ideas off of whenever you’re trying to work on a resume or looking for a job. I think it’s a really great program.”
Engineering alumni interested in learning more about the program can contact the dean’s office by phone at 609.771.2538 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.