Kai Entrepreneurship Wesleyan has announced the launch of a new mentorship program that pairs together University students and alumni in the industry that will take place for seven weeks during the fall semester.
Kai Entrepreneurship Wesleyan, or Kai, is a student-run non-profit organization that creates programs which revolve around ideas of openness, inclusion, and community in the technology industry and social entrepreneurship.
“Our focus on these principles springs from the troubling lack of diversity in the current entrepreneurship world and the technology industry overall, and we see college as an ideal time to encourage people of all interests and backgrounds to get involved,” the Kai website reads.
“We aim to provide resources and empower those not usually represented in entrepreneurial circles,” Co-President Mika Reyes ’17, who also co-founded the organization, wrote in an email to The Argus.
Current Kai programs include, but are not limited to, annual trips, fundraisers, incubators, workshops, and speaker series. The purpose of the new mentorship program is to provide a bridge between what happens inside a classroom and what happens inside the workplace.
“[Doing social entrepreneurship is] a big jump, and it’s difficult to realize without someone voicing it out for you,” Reyes wrote.
“We’re constantly evolving based on student feedback, so since then, we’ve also begun to offer more pre-professional opportunities such as the new Mentorship Program,” Kai’s Chief Operations Officer, Cindy Horng ’17, wrote in an email to The Argus.
Horng’s responsibilities include running daily operations and ensuring that the programs all run smoothly.
“The Kai Mentorship Program by Kai Entrepreneurship Wesleyan is designed to help students of all backgrounds build relevant skills and foster tangible connections in their fields of interest,” Horng wrote.
Reyes has worked with alumni in the technology sector, and they have been helpful in her professional search.
“[Kai’s new mentorship program can provide a] similar kind of guidance to those who may not otherwise have the capacity to reach out to people in the industry,” Reyes wrote.
Horng echoed this sentiment and elaborated on the challenges that some liberal arts students can face.
“It’s hard for many students—especially at a liberal arts college like Wes—to decide what industry to enter in the future,” Horng wrote. “We at Kai have worked hard to design a program that would not only match selected students with awesome mentors, but also ensure that they make the most of this relationship and opportunity.”
The program’s mentors are University alumni.
“Alums are the best people to be mentors because they know the culture at Wesleyan and they’ve been through that transition,” Reyes wrote.
Horng also felt that using alumni would help students through the personal connection.
“We at Kai firmly believe that all the alumni chosen for this program are not only very knowledgeable in their fields, but also highly dedicated to helping Wes students succeed,” Horng wrote.
Some of the mentors are alumni who were recruited due to being mentors of the Kai leadership team, and others are simply alumni who reached out after hearing about the new program.
Additionally, Horng explained, Kai will not be involved in the process of pairing together University alumni and current students.
“[The] mentors will be choosing their mentees directly,” she wrote.
Horng thinks that this will ensure that the alumni are invested in the students’ development from the very beginning of the program.
Reyes also mentioned that University students will be able to ask their mentors questions. Furthermore, the mentors will supervise a project to culminate at the end of the semester, which will be completed by the students. The projects will be relevant to the industry the students are being mentored in and are meant to improve the students’ skills and help them toward their goals.
Mentorships in many different industries are being offered through the program. The areas of expertise include finance/banking, management consulting, technology, design, marketing, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, non-profits, and government, according to a Sept. 9 post on Kai Entrepreneurship Wesleyan’s Facebook page.
“This 1-to-1 mentorship program is designed to help you foster meaningful relationships with people in your fields of interest, as well as build some key skills for your future job,” the Facebook page reads.
The semester-long program is set to officially start on Sept. 26. The students’ projects will be presented on Dec. 11. The program application is due on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 11 p.m. Students can apply directly to each mentor and have the ability to apply to multiple fields of interest.