DSU, M&T Partners to Mentor Students, Talent Diversification – DBT
guest author June 3, 2022
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Delaware State University is partnered with M&T Bank as part of the Executive Pipeline of Diversity (POD) mentoring program. | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABLEING
DOVER – Delaware State University (DSU) and M&T Bank are diversifying the banking industry – and the workforce at large – through a growing mentoring program.
The Executive Pipeline of Diversity (POD) mentoring program was launched in 2020 by DSU’s College of Business in partnership with M&T, although the university is now collaborating with additional institutions.
“DSU has reached out to other organizations to get them to join as well. It’s great to have other institutions involved, the more mentors we can recruit for the students the better,” said Randy Kunkle, M&T vice president and Regional Community Reinvestment Act manager.
Inspired by his involvement with the University of Delaware’s Lerner Executive Mentoring Program, Kunkle saw an opportunity to develop a similar program at DSU.
The Executive POD Mentoring program has grown rapidly since its first iteration of eight students and now serves approximately 40 mentees, DSU Assistant Dean for Student and Entrepreneurial Commitment Yahshikiah Hughes to the Delaware Business Times.
“We are proud of the success and development of the program over the past 18 months as we have seen significant growth… and several of our students have been offered internships as a direct result of being part of the mentoring program,” Hughes said .
DSU students participating in the program are paired with industry leaders and participate in professional development workshops.
“In the beginning there was a guide with topics to talk about: networking, problem solving, delegation,” says Kunkle.
Mentees can discuss these real-world skills with their mentors and focus on interviewing, resume building, and other soft skills alongside other mentees.
As the mentoring program expands, it builds on M&T’s pursuit of broader goals.
In its report, the bank referred to its commitment to working with marginalized groups Environmental, Social and Governance Report 2021. According to the report, DSU is one of several historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with which the bank is partnering.
“The executive mentoring program is a way to really bring the bank to these people, but also use it as a way to build a diverse talent pipeline,” said David Femi, senior vice president and head of Multicultural Banking and Diverse Market Strategy by M&T.
The bank achieves this goal by working with HBCUs like DSU and their students both inside and outside of the classroom.
DSU is the third-largest HBCU in the country, and many of its students are among the first in their families to go to college, said Femi, a DSU graduate student. Through the Executive Mentoring program, students receive guidance and knowledge that they may not otherwise have access to.
The Executive POD Mentoring Program not only provides students with industry connections and opportunities to develop their skills, but also facilitates the formation of real interpersonal connections.
“Year for year, [mentors] raise their hands and say, ‘I want to do this again.’ It’s more than just mentoring for these people, they become friends,” Femi said.
The relationships between mentors and mentees fostered by the program are mutually beneficial.
“It’s not a one-way street, we’re both learning. It’s not just me sharing my wisdom from the mountaintop,” Kunkle said.
In addition to its collaborative nature, the program encourages personalization. Mentees can work with their mentors to structure their experience to meet their specific goals.
Although the program was originally designed for mentors and mentees to meet at least once a month, Kunkle and his mentee meet weekly.
DSU and M&T’s program forges lifelong connections while providing DSU’s diverse business students with the skills, experience and confidence they need to differentiate themselves from employers and thrive in the banking industry.
DSU strives to pair everyone Business student at college with a mentor in the future, according to Hughes.