In 2009, a group of senior undergraduates at York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto decided to mentor younger counterparts in the program.
Five years later, the student-run Protégé Club has proven so successful that this fall it recruited a record 81 mentors, upper-year business administration students who offer advice to younger counterparts on the academic, social and professional preparation required for a career in business.
"The mentors join because they want to connect with the students and share their experiences," says Leon Wu, an early club member who later joined KPMG in 2012 as a senior accountant. "We want the mentees to join in, not to get a job, but more to learn from the experiences of others."
In one-on-one pairings and group social events, the program matches older and younger students based on career interests, hobbies and other potential points of contact. Mentors and protégés meet at least twice a month in person, through social media and informal social gatherings to network and discuss issues of concern.
Current Protégé Club president Linda Chen, a third-year business administration student, recalls the support she received from Candice Ip, a "fantastic mentor" then in fourth year.
"She wanted to help me and offer advice and if she couldn't, she would connect me to other people who could offer more insight," says Ms. Chen.
Through her own experience as a protégé and mentor, Ms. Chen says she learned "how to build relationships, communicate more effectively and learn active listening."
The program, she adds, "helps people adjust faster and be more likely to succeed in the future."
KPMG Canada, an early program sponsor, offers workshops and general career advice to students.