Mentoring mixer brings alumni and students together to keep nursing strong

Students are more successful when they have role models – and they can find a room full at a mentor mixer designed to help students at the UNC School of Nursing connect with alumni in the working world.

The mixer is a networking event sponsored by the UNC School of Nursing Alumni Association and the Undergraduate Governance Council as part of their Get Hired series to help students transition to professional careers.

“This is an opportunity for students to meet our alumni and learn about different work experiences, discover different career paths and learn ways to practice,” says Lauren Hipp Hundley, assistant director of advancement for the School. “They can establish meaningful relationships with working alumni and find the best path for them.”

At the most recent mixer, more than 50 students and 40 alumni were set up in a ‘speed-dating’ format to maximize the number of alumni the students could meet.

Melissa Toper, ABSN ’03, MSN, a pediatric nurse educator for the Duke Health System, has attended two of the mixers, and she says she’s enjoyed sharing her experiences with students who are just starting out, as well as those who are on the job market.

“I worked bedside in the PICU for ten years before becoming a nurse educator, so I can share experiences with education, with pediatric or critical care, or what it’s like to get a master’s degree,” she says.

Alumni are grouped by specialty, and the students rotate through for a handful of minutes at a time. The goal for students is to gain insight on how to find jobs or to learn about career paths they’d never considered. Inviting alumni to interact with the students allows them to give back to the school that launched their careers and be part of launching the careers of the next generation of Carolina nurses.

Toper says often students want to know exactly what an interview for a nursing job is like – what to wear, what they’ll be asked, who they’ll meet, what kind of structure to expect.

“If you haven’t been working in the field, that really is a big ‘what if.’ We take for granted that our students really need this kind of guidance.”

It’s the kind of advice she could have used, and she’s happy to give.

“We need nurses, and we need good quality nurses who want to be in nursing for a long time. If I can provide encouragement, or expose a new student to the diversity of jobs available in this field, I want to be that resource.”

Interested in becoming involved in Carolina Nursing’s Mentor Program? Please click here or contact us at