Students can bolster goals in an UMSL mentorship program with Edward Jones

Paige Risenhoover

International business major Paige Risenhoover was among the first 15 students to take part a mentorship program created by the College of Business Administration in partnership with Edward Jones. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Paige Risenhoover was working as an intern last summer at Boeing, focusing on core estimating in the company’s commercial airplane division, when she heard about a mentorship program being launched by the University of Missouri–St. Louis College of Business Administration with Edward Jones.

Risenhoover, a junior majoring in international business, thought it would be a boon to her professional ambitions, so she applied and went through an interview process with a representative of Edward Jones and Lisa Fikki, the internship coordinator in the College of Business Administration.

“We just kind of talked about what I was looking to get out of it – fairly informal, just like, ‘what do you want from this?’” Risenhoover said. “And then they match us up with who they thought we would work best with.”

The Edward Jones mentorship program was launched in August as a partnership between the College of Business Administration and Edward Jones. It pairs UMSL students with alumni who work at Edward Jones as an avenue to provide them with professional guidance, enhanced skills and meaningful connection.

It is intended to be a supplement to the academic experience and offer “real-world” knowledge.

Resources including resume and cover letter reviews and interview strategies are available for those in the mentorship program via the internship department or online course in Canvas.

There were 15 students chosen to participate in the program in the first semester.

Students connect virtually with mentors once a month to discuss goals and strategies for success and oftentimes topics that, over time, become more personal.

Risenhoover was paired with Amber Simpson, an UMSL alumna who is director of business segmentation at Edward Jones, and there was an instantaneous kinship.

“I feel like she’s like my best friend,” Risenhoover said. “We recently did the 16 personalities test, and we were the same. We’re both protagonists. We get on the Zoom call and just start laughing and it’s like ‘All right, let’s get to work.’ We have a good time but she also keeps me on track.”

Some tools Risenhoover has gained and applied to her internship are how to navigate challenges on a project and better connect with management. Simpson has also offered personal guidance.

“She’s really been trying to help me with exercises like having a morning routine, and the importance of getting up and having a moment to yourself,” she said. “It’s really helped me not get overwhelmed. She has been very good at giving me advice for stress management.”

Simpson, a self-described “giver by nature”, agreed to participate in the program due to her experience with being mentored as a youth. She believes the benefits of mentorship can be felt by both parties.

“It’s extremely important to give back,” Simpson says. “I always had people reaching out to me. I’m very much a nurturer. I get the joy of seeing I’m making an impact.”

In addition to Risenhoover’s goals of wanting more professional polish, Simpson had a vision for for her mentee as well.

“I wanted to see her growing in her ability to put herself out there – build her skill in being confident and being the initiator,” Simpson said. “The skill of networking is important.”

Risenhoover has been in the mentorship program for about seven months now and has gained valuable insights.

“She’s already taught me so much,” Risenhoover said. “For instance, helping me make sure of what position I’m going for, that I’m happy in it, it’s work I’m passionate about and having a solid relationship with my manager. She’s very into making sure I’m going into something I want to be doing, not just because it looks good or for the money.”

For any student considering a mentorship through UMSL, Risenhoover is vehemently in favor of utilizing the program.

“Do it because whoever you get paired up with is going to have experience in the business world,” she said. “They already know what you need to get a career. It’s good to have that personal connection to help you network. Building your network in business, and having people around you who want to help you is really, really important.”

A successful mentor/mentee relationship can last well beyond the timeframe of the program.

Risenhoover and Simpson both look forward to staying connected after it ends.

“I think she’s just really, really awesome,” Risenhoover said. “She has a great viewpoint on business. I think she could be someone I go to for the rest of my life for advice.


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