UofTMed Students: How I Became an Alumni Mentorship Matchmaker
As the 1T8 MD class co-presidents, we were looking for a way to support our class as we all went separate ways during clerkship. When we heard funding was available for projects connecting medical students with alumni, we decided to launch the MD Alumni Mentorship Program.
Why add yet another project when everyone is so busy?
This was a time when we were making big decisions about our career paths — and while we had many mentorship opportunities in our first two years of medical school, there wasn’t a formalized mentorship program in the last two years.
Busy or not, it’s immensely helpful to connect with alumni, even if for one get-together.
So we made our foray into mentorship matchmaking, and had a few surprises along the way.
First, we had no idea that so many alumni — also a busy group of people — were keen to serve as mentors. We faced the challenge of connecting one group of busy people with another.
We tried to keep commitment to a minimum: just one in-person meeting, or a Skype appointment, if geography posed too big an obstacle. And instead of looking for picture-perfect matches, we opted to build a network with alumni interested in supporting students even if their specialty didn’t coincide with the mentee’s own career plans.
In fact, our second surprise came through matches that didn’t hinge at all on area of practice — but instead on interests or life situations. Some students wanted to connect with alumni who are parents, to hear their stories of balancing busy lives with demanding practices. In another instance we looked at geography, pairing a colleague up with a rural surgeon who practiced near his family’s cottage north of Ottawa.
Finally, we were both surprised at the number of matches we were able to make: 60 in total. Luckily we didn’t have to do all of the legwork, with the MedAlumni Team setting up the application forms, and organizing the student and alumni info to help us do the matchmaking.
So far we’ve heard from students about how their mentors helped them network in their chosen fields, provided opportunities for extracurricular activities, and more. And we’d love to hear about any career-defining or life-changing mentorship matches — so please get in touch to share your own experience if you’ve had a meaningful one.
We also want to thank all the alumni who took part or have shown interest in connecting with students — your soon-to-be colleagues. And as we’re passing the baton to the 1T9 class presidents, we’re always looking for more volunteer mentors.
Katie Mattina and Samik Doshi are MD 1T8 co-presidents and founders of the MD Alumni Mentorship Program. Find out about alumni mentorship programs at the Faculty of Medicine — including for MD, MD/PhD, nutritional sciences and life sciences programs.
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