Helping Gonzaga University Students and Alumni Clarify and Achieve Their Academic and Professional Goals

Month: March 2021

What It’s Like to Be a Mentor with Cassie Looker

In continuation of feature on mentorsips, this week we interviewed one of Mila’s mentors, Cassie Looker.  Cassie is From Whidbey Island, Washington and graduated from GU in 1995, with a degree in journalism and minor in Philosophy.  After graduating, she moved to Portland and found herself at Nike. She has worked there for over 20 years now, including a small break to get a Master’s in Teaching from University of Portland. Her current position is as the Global Product Director for Men’s and Women’s Golf Apparel.  

Did you use a mentor when you were in college, and how did you go about making that connection? 

I had more mentors from Gonzaga versus outside of school. There was no internet and email was not necessarily a thing [at the time], so there was a lot more face to face meeting with people. It is a lot easier now, but back then it was hard to talk to mentors outside of Spokane, so I relied more on professors and classmates. Once I graduated and moved to Portland, and started to get out into the workforce, I had more of a career mentor.  

Do you still have a mentor now? 

I do, several. For me, one big theme is getting help with managing people. It is nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of, ask how I can improve, and help if I get into a situation I do not know how to manage. It is nice to have a neutral person. Some are from Nike- current employees that are mentors- which can help with producing new strategies, plans for business innovation, and new product types. It has been nice having a group of people that can make me feel confident about any topic.  

How many people do you currently mentor? 

At least ten people, a mix of Gonzaga and Nike people. I also am a mentor for my nephew at Gonzaga.  

What are some of the career and networking assistance you provide? 

I try and really listen to what they are interested in and what they are working through. Hopefully, I can give them some advice and provide more names for them to network with, which might be more specifically connected to what they do. Mainly, I like to listen and connect.  

What is the most rewarding part of being a mentor? 

I think being able to see people grow and do amazing things. I work with female mentors and mentees, and in the workplace it is really important to empower women and clear the path for them to do whatever they set their mind too. It has been rewarding to see them do really amazing things. I love to see them succeed, to see a project or product on tv, or if they give a good presentation. It is always so exciting.  

What is the most challenging part of being a mentor?  

The challenging part is not having an answer, if I feel like I cannot help. You really wanna help someone, and when you hit a dead end it is hard. I try to connect them with someone else who I feel can help though.  

What are tips you have for students looking to have a mentor and how should they reach out?  

Really take the time to sit down and think about what you are looking for from a mentor. Some of those things might be career advice, stages in that person’s career that you are interested in, or they might be a part of business you are interested in. Someone who is closer to your age might be a different conversation and is another thing to consider.  

Take the time to think when you read about someone or connect with them, “What do I want to walk away with?” It is good to be prepared, and when sending your message, it is nice to be on the shorter side: introduce yourself, what you are doing in school, your interests. One example could be, “I see you work at Nike in apparel, I’m interested in that because I like innovation.”  

Show them, this is who I am, what I am looking for, and I see this connection because of three things. You should form a narrative, help me understand what they are looking for coming into the conversation.  

What are important traits for students to look for when choosing a major? 

Initially ask if this is a good fit for me, is it interesting to me what they are doing and it is good to have some emotional reaction. It also does not have to be related to your field, it can be in a completely different field, you never know what you might be interested in. Most things that I’ve done, I did not know about it until being immersed in it for work, so it is good to learn about something new. Most of all, know that you can see potential in that relationship.  

How do you feel about using ZagsConnect? 

I like using ZagsConnect to talk to mentees. You can talk like an email and it does not feel like an email. There is a history of conversations, so you can scroll up and see what you have talked about.

I also interviewed Mila Yoch, who told me about her experiences as a mentee. How would you describe your mentor/mentee relationship? 

I was a good sounding board for her as she was formulating what she might want to do for her in the future as a good resource and maintaining conversation as she continues to have questions and keep providing that loop of information.  

You can connect with Leslie and numerous other mentors by logging in to ZagsConnect using your Gonzaga University log in. Get started today!

What is it like to have a mentor? with Mila Yoch

ZagsConnect is Gonzaga’s virtual mentorship platform that connects Gonzaga alumni to students looking for career and networking assistance. Easy to use and with an intuitive interface, many students have found success in gaining valuable career advice. Today, we are featuring a current student mentee who has utilized ZagsConnect. Mila Yoch is a senior public relations major with a minor in digital marketing, who told us about her experience with mentorship on ZagsConnect.

What previous work experience have you had? 

Mila: I currently work at Innovia Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Spokane as a Public Relations fellow. I have had a lot of jobs, and so I have also worked as the Media Manager for GSBA, as a Digital Editor for the Gonzaga Bulletin, some random jobs for student media, and a Communications Intern for the city of Palo Alto.  

What field are you planning to go into? 

Mila: I am planning to go into a form of Public Relations that centers around Digital Marketing. I also am interested in User Experience and User Interface design and am looking forward to continuing my education in those.  

What mentors have you connected with? 

Mila: Some of the mentors have included Casey Looker, Kelsey Mcginnis, Joseph Carvalo, Christian Conrad, and Lisa Bersani. I initially had to find one for a class, and the others had jobs I was interested in. I began working with all of them after the pandemic began, mostly because I was curious about how the industry was affected by the pandemic. I am more inclined to want to connect virtually as I am pretty busy, so meeting with people for coffee is difficult. It is nice to have a set zoom call without restrictions.  

How did you initially reach out to your mentors?  

Mila: I send them a general message saying, “Hi, I’m a senior at GU interested in the path you’ve taken and your day to day. Would it be possible to speak?” I like to send a very simple message. All of these have been through ZagsConnect, although I have sent a message through ZagsConnect and then connected with them through LinkedIn.  

What has been the most valuable experience so far from your mentorship?  

Mila: Really informative notes on what the working world has transformed into with covid-19 and how they have had to switch up their day to day lives. They have given me helpful tips on how to make the first steps into the working world and take the initial plunge. When I spoke with one mentor, they told me a different route of getting to work with a certain company. I looked into some subcontracting work they did which had been helpful. For another mentor I spoke with, he basically followed up asking for my resume and sent me some stuff like a job application to apply for his work.  

What advice would you give to students looking for a mentor?  

Mila: Reach out with clear intentions that you want to talk to them. Do not send a copy and paste email. Make sure it is very curated to the individual. Follow up with either a thank you email or a thank you letter and ask them for their address after they speak. They are taking their time out of their day to talk, so show your gratitude.  

What questions should they be asking their mentors? 

Mila: It depends on what you are seeking from the mentor, [and] what their day-to-day tasks would look like. A lot of people I reached out to had the same major and have positions I am interested in, so I wanted them to go through their tasks and let me know what the positions were like.

What was something unexpected that came from this experience? 

Mila: I would say that I have made some interesting connections with some of these people through LinkedIn, and made even more connections through their connections. I was exposed to their networks and people, which gave me more networking experience. 

I wanted to be confident about the world I was looking forward to applying to. I asked them, “What does your life look like with these careers?”

Network, stay connected, and put on your cover letter that you have spoken with them. It helps you confidently know that you are making the right decision in your career path. 

Thanks to Mila for chatting with us about her experience as a mentee! Be sure to visit the blog next week, when we chat with a mentor!

Tips to Communicate with Employers

The FUSE career fair is a 25-year tradition for students from Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, Washington State University Spokane, and Whitworth University to connect with employers and is a great opportunity for anyone looking to network and find possible career opportunities. There are over 100 companies looking to hire for internships, jobs, and volunteer positions.  

This virtual event will require contact with many employers. To prepare you for this, Gonzaga CPD has compiled a list of tips to contact potential employers.  

  1. Research- One benefit to virtual career fairs is the advantage of knowing exactly who is going to be attending. Look at the list of employers that have registered for the event, and narrow down which ones you are interested in. Once you’ve down this, research the positions of the employees that are going to be attending and see if those align with positions you aim to fill in the future. It also is good to learn more about the company, as employers enjoy when students have done research showing interest.  
  1. Ask Questions- Employers are there to answer questions about their organization or any roles you might be interested in. By asking questions, you can show employers that you are inquisitive, and actively demonstrate a greater interest in the role.  
  1. Ask for Contact Information- After talking to employers, ask them for the best way to contact them. This will typically be through email or phone, and is essential to continuing communication after the career fair and conversation is over. The employers will also appreciate you reaching out to them for this information.  
  1. Send a Thank-You Message- Using that contact information, it is then a polite gesture to thank the employer for taking the time to talk to you and for any information they might have given you about a position or networking information. This will begin a conversation and relationship with this person. For more information on how to craft a thank you message, check out our other blog post linked below:  
  1. Connect with them! Once you’ve reached out to these employers, check out their profiles on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great resource to build your network and create an online portfolio of your experience. You can view industries that they’ve worked in that might be of interest to you, along with any other connections they might have for you to reach out to.  
  1. Apply- Once you’ve applied to a position you learned about at the career fair, feel free to send a message to this employer you’ve connected with letting them know and about your interests in the position. This can make recruiters more aware of your application and show your interests and extra efforts.  

Using these tips, you can ensure your success at the FUSE Career Fair, which you can find out more about using the following link: