During my visit to the GE Veterans Workshop last month I was turned onto an organization called American Corporate Partners. The organization puts veteran job seekers in contact with mentors from Fortune 100 companies to assist in their transition. It was founded in 2008 by investment banker Sidney Goodfriend.
I hate buzzwords. They happen when people start to equate talking about a good idea with actually implementing a good idea. Too often, the word mentorship falls into this category.
By all appearances, however, American Corporate Partners offers mentorship in the truest sense of the word. I signed up for the program and last week was paired with my mentor. Please note that I use the word “paired with” as opposed to “assigned”. This is the key to keeping a mentorship program focused on results.
In order to get to this point I needed to register on the site, which included a thorough (but not too, lengthy) biography section. Once that was submitted and reviewed I received an email asking for a little bit more information about my career intentions and what I expected to gain from the program. The next step involved a brief interview with a counselor. At this point we discussed things that I would value in a mentor, in my case, I was looking for someone in the HR field, preferably in mid to upper levels of an organization, similar in age. (Although they asked, I had no preference in the mentors race or gender, but I think it’s great that they do ask that question, as I know those can be significant issues for many people.) Once my package was complete it was sent out to their network to see if anyone would be interested in partnering up with me. Two days later, I had an offer.
Soon afterward I was given the biography and contact information of Diana Pike, the Human Resources Director at Fox Television Stations in Washington, DC. Prior to her civilian career, Diana had served 13 years in the Army working with Signals Intelligence. During our initial phone conversation last week we talked about where I’m at professionally, and also a little bit about her experiences.
In our first conversation she gave me some insightful ideas about things I had never considered and we agreed to swap resumes via email to facilitate future discussions. The mentorship program requires at least monthly contact. Her location in DC makes meeting up in person pretty easy for me and we expect to do so soon.
Face to face meetings are certainly great, but the program doesn’t necessarily require people to be close geographically. In fact, Diana said that of her two previous proteges, the one that ended up with the best relationship and outcome, was in Iraq throughout most of the time they worked together.
I had thought about waiting to blog about this until I had been in the program longer, but in keeping with the theme of “fortune favors the prepared”, I wanted to share the information now. Being that this is a year-long agreement, I think it’s an excellent program to be a part of before leaving the military. I am excited about the opportunities that American Corporate Partners is offering and am looking forward to developing a strong relationship with my mentor.
The program stresses that it is NOT a jobs program, which is completely understandable. Anyone who thinks that this will directly land them a position at a certain company does not understand how to cultivate and use a network. This is about genuine mentorship, the kind of relationship that enables slow, steady, and sustainable growth.