IgKnight90 Mentorship Program opens up

Madeline Bruce, Editor-in-Chief

Gannon University’s Center for Career Exploration and Development is offering its IgKnight90 mentorship program for a third year, with an application deadline of Nov. 15.

The program, which Stacy Ress, assistant director of career preparation, was charged with when she was hired, was implemented to proactively help students gain meaningful and helpful relationships with professionals in their prospective fields.

According to Ress, previous mentoring efforts were reactive, rather than proactive, and failed to address a need that existed among Gannon students.

“They were a kind of band-aid solution to a problem, and we didn’t proactively set up students with mentors to better their opportunities,” Ress said.

“It was always a response to an issue.”

The program was also disjointed, creating one-off relationships that were at random and didn’t have a purpose.

Those at the Center for Career Exploration and Development wanted to create an intentional and proactive program that would prioritize these relationships, Ress said. From this, IgKnight90 was created.

Additionally, the program creates a more welcoming mentoring environment for students. Before IgKnight90 was created, the Career Exploration and Development office saw the benefits of mentorship for students but also saw how hesitant students were to connect with a mentor.

“They were afraid of navigating the experience alone and needing to drive the conversation or activity,” Ress said. “This program was designed intentionally to try to make it a little less scary for students. They’re going through this with other people.”

IgKnight90 gives students a 90-day experience with a mentor who is carefully matched to their discipline focus and professional needs.

There is also a sense of comradery in the program, as the 20 students in the cohort work together through the experience.

“This has helped students feel like they are not alone in the experience,” Ress said.

The program also meets a variety of needs for Gannon students.

Some students who apply know what they want to do after graduation, and Ress said those students can take the opportunity to learn things outside of the classroom.

Other students, particularly those who are earlier on in their career, can see how the content and skills they’re learning in the classroom can apply to the job field.

It can also lead to a strong networking connection, which Ress said is not the intention of the program but is a nice outcome for students.

“Networking is very important, and sometimes that happens within the program,” Ress said. “We’re not expecting it to lead to an internship or a job, but a student’s mentor could be that person who introduces them to someone else or connects them with a job.”

Despite the benefits of having a mentor, few students take advantage of it. That, Ress said, is why IgKnight90 was created.

“It eliminates that fear students have of mentoring,” she said.

“It helps with professional development in many areas and can help students’ confidence as they enter the job market.”

Students in the program will meet with their mentor monthly, from January 2022 through April 2022.

The meetings are all pre-planned and center on the development of career competency.

This way, students don’t have the pressure of having to invite their mentor somewhere and thinking of something interesting to talk about – they simply show up to the meetings and talk about that month’s topic with their mentor.

Mentors come from a variety of connections that Gannon’s Career Development and Exploration office has.

The office works with Gannon’s Alumni Office to get engaged alumni involved.

Employer partners and personal connections are also pools from which mentors are drawn.

Even if a student’s mentoring needs don’t fit into any of these groups, they will still have a mentor who is the right match.

“We haven’t had any issues finding mentors in specific fields,” Ress said.

“It helps that we can lean into faculty to find students who need a certain type of mentor.”

Mentorship doesn’t have to be limited to career-related topics.

Alexa Littman, a fourth-year biochemical and mechanical engineering major, said that her conversations with her mentor ranged from the typical career advice to life advice.

“We touched on things such as how to balance social life with school and with applying for jobs, which is a very important aspect of my personal life, as I find this difficult to do,” Littman said.

Littman also said that her mentor helped her academically through learning how to prioritize and giving her tips on what he did as a college student to manage his time with classwork, internships and a personal life.

“I could take these ideas and find out what works best for me,” she said.

Littman remains in contact with her men-tor, who continues to help her through the rest of her academic career.

“I benefited by making a lifelong mentor,” she said. “It provided me with an unbiased person to turn to when I need advice or a second opinion.”

These benefits are important, according to Ress, and while it can be intimidating at first, having a mentor is something that is meaningful for students.

Even if a student is scared, Ress advises them to take the chance and apply for IgKnight90.

“Challenge yourself to go outside of your comfort zone,” she said.

“The outcomes we have seen have been so meaningful for students. While what that meaning is varies from student to student, the connections made and the knowledge gained are worthwhile.”

The program is limited to approximately 20 students, and mentees are selected between the fall and spring semester.

Those interested in participating in IgKnight90 can apply at:



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