SHARE connects low-income students with mentors

 

Launched at the beginning of the month, the SHadow Alums in the REal World (SHARE) pilot program aims to increase exploration of career options for first-generation college students by taking them into the workplaces of Stanford alumni.

 

The program is the result of a partnership between the First-Generation Low Income Partnership (FLIP), the Career Development Center (CDC), Stanford Alumni Mentoring (SAM) and the ePortfolio project.

 

Applications to the program closed April 1, and selected students participated in an orientation last Tuesday in Old Union. While the program encouraged all interested Stanford students to apply, it placed priority on those who identify as first-generation or low-income.

 

“SHARE is ideal for a range of interests: from those who don’t know what they want and would like to explore to those who do know what they want and have specific questions,” said Sonoo Thadaney, a leader for SHARE at the Diversity and First Generation Office.

 

Each alumnus mentor hosts a small group of two to four undergraduates, with the goal of giving students the opportunity to experience the workplace, ask questions and begin networking.

 

Stanford called upon alumni who identified as first-generation, low-income or supporters to host students. According to Thadaney, many alumni said they appreciated the support they received at Stanford as first-generation or low-income students and were eager to pass the baton forward through the SHARE program.

 

“[Alumni] commented that what may seem commonplace to most Stanford students certainly was not to them as first-gen,” Thadaney said. “And thus they were happy to see the University’s focus on the needs of this student community.”

 

While alumni from many companies offered to host students, the SHARE program has decided to stay small for the pilot year. Companies hosting students include Intuit; Bailard; VMware, Inc.; Tarana Wireless; Farella Braun+Martel LLP; and the KIPP Foundation.

 

Each new student member of the program creates an ePortfolio, an online platform for each student to document academic work such as papers, projects and audio files of presentations. The Office of the Registrar has spearheaded the ePortfolio pilot program throughout campus to explore how online learning portfolios can be used in the future.

 

“Unlike Facebook, which represents a student’s social identity, the Stanford ePortfolio is intended to help students document various aspects of their intellectual identity as a learner,” Thadaney said. The ePortfolio also serves as a means of introducing students in SHARE to alumni mentors and helping them build a professional network.

 

According to Thadaney, the ePortfolios will provide a valuable source of feedback about SHARE, since it encourages alumni and students to reflect on their experiences. She said the qualitative data from these reflections, combined with staff opinions and ideas, will be used to improve and further develop SHARE.

 

Student and alumni participation in SHARE have been finalized for the month of April, but there are still a few spots available, Thadaney added.