West Virginia Wesleyan College Director of Career Services and Experiential Learning Dr. Justin Bowers addresses the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce at its monthly meeting Wednesday. / (Photo by Katie Kuba)

WVWC director of Career Services asks Chamber members to consider giving back ‘relationally’ via mentoring and more

BUCKHANNON – West Virginia Wesleyan College’s new director of Career Services and Experiential Learning is eager to connect employers with college students who are asking the question, “What’s next?”

Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tammy Reger said a Chamber board member had recently asked about participating in or creating a mentoring program, so she decided to invite Dr. Justin Bowers, WVWC’s director of Career Services and Experiential Learning, to Wednesday’s monthly meeting.

“Justin already is doing [a mentoring] program with Wesleyan, so we invited Justin to come to the Chamber and tell us a little bit about that program and tell us how the Chamber can build on that existing program instead of rebuilding one,” Reger said.

Bowers has been in the position for just about a year and a half.

“I’m relatively new, so this mentoring program officially launches today when one of you says, ‘Yes, I’ll be a mentor,’” he said. “We have wanted to do this and get this started for a long time, and really what my office does is focus on the question for college students of, ‘What’s next?’ We really are asking these students professionally, vocationally, graduate school-wise, ‘What is the next step that you need to take to go after whatever it is that you’re pursuing?’”

“That entails everything from your typical understanding of career services like resume coaching, interviews, how to network professionally, but then a lot of it becomes relational focused,” Bowers added. “I would imagine that if each of you thinks back to your own professional development, you’ve had someone who mentored you along the way. Whether it was formal or whether it was formal or whether it was informal, somebody helped you get to where you are – and that’s why we’ve wanted to do this for a long time is really to create more relational networks for these students.”

Bowers said a common question that frequently pops up is how established employers and businesses can give back to the community.

“I think a lot of times, especially with people in this room, how that’s coming at you is, ‘Would you fund this? Would you donate? Would you give?’ and what we’re thinking about is, and what we’re asking is, ‘Can you give back relationally?’”

Most times, it’s the quality of the relationship between the mentor and student that makes the biggest difference, and there are also several ways to give back relationally, Bowers said.

Mentoring doesn’t have to mean a huge time commitment, he added. Although business owners and employees can become one-to-one career mentors, they can also offer shorter job or vocational shadowing opportunities that can give students an idea of what a typical work day is like.

Micro-internships for a shorter period of time and full-semester or summer internships are other options.

“In a perfect setting, one of you would say, ‘I’d love to mentor a college student,’ and we’ll put you through a very simple training,” Bowers said. “We’ll have you partnered with a student whose academic field relates to your profession in one way or another and we would invite you to spend time with them in one way or another, whether that’s a lunch once a month, whether that’s a Zoom meeting.”

A full-fledged internship amounts to about six to eight hours of work per semester, Bowers said.

“What we always encourage and ask of our business partners in those internships is, let it be more than getting coffee and checking the mail,” he said. “Let it be some kind of meaningful internship experience.”

Bowers said if employers were unsure of how to design an internship, he is happy to help.

“Let’s grab coffee, let’s talk about it,” he said.

Bowers invited companies and businesses to participate in WVWC’s Career & Graduate School Fair, set for 3-6 p.m. Thursday, March 21. If you’re interested in setting up a table at the fair, learn more and sign up here: https://forms.gle/CoqmbryQp4j2DqBy8.

The fair will take place in WVWC’s Library.

News Feed

Subscribe to remove popups, or just enjoy this free story and support our local businesses!