Husky connections

The power of mentorship: One alum’s experience with Huskies@Work

Huskies@Work, the UW Alumni Association’s job shadowing program, just concluded its second full year. Since May 2016, alumni and students have been connecting in offices and coffee shops — and over virtual meeting tools like Skype — around the Puget Sound region, the country and even the world.

We talked to Patrick Clark, ’86, who served as an alumni host in October 2017. Patrick is the Director of Campus Planning and Retail Services at UW Tacoma. He sat down and told us how his experience with UW student Angie Fung, ’18, was the starting point that helped her get a job out of college with CBRE, the world’s largest real estate services firm.

Patrick Clark

Why did you decide to get involved with Huskies@Work?
I’ve done mentoring programs before. I’ve always been fortunate to have very good mentors at every point in my career — early in my career in terms of figuring out where my trajectory needed to be; in the middle when I had roadblocks like everybody does, when mentors helped coach me and take an honest and open look; and now later in my career I have a mentor that I still use.

Mentoring is in my DNA. I coached high school sports. I feel like for anybody to be successful in any pursuit that they have, you need folks around you who can help and guide you. That was the reason I got involved with Huskies@Work. I got the email invitation and I thought it would be a cool way to get involved.

What happened when you connected with the student you were paired with, Angie Fung?
Huskies@Work is not really a mentoring program — it’s a job shadowing program. But I told her, “I’d love to continue working with you throughout the rest of your senior year.” So we met and had coffee. I asked a lot of questions: What are you interested in, what is your degree in, what are your lifelong pursuits. She has the desire to eventually own her own restaurant and business. We talked a lot about different industries, and we made a plan to start simple: let’s get you on LinkedIn, let’s create some strategies about what I can do and let’s do a lot of networking.

I spent a lot of time connecting her with people in the early-to-mid career phase so that she could get a sense of what it’s like to get into a career and what it’s like to get to a certain point. I tried to connect her with other female professionals. From them, she’s going to learn a lot about what it’s like to get in and what they confronted, because being a female professional is a different experience than being a male professional. So there was a lot — taking her to networking events and challenging her to do this on her own.

“I feel like for anybody to be successful in any pursuit that they have, you need folks around you who can help and guide you. That was the reason I got involved with Huskies@Work. I got the email invitation and I thought it would be a cool way to get involved.”

Was networking something you had to ease Angie into or was she ready to go?
I think she was ready to go. She was at that point in her college life, where she’s thinking, “OK, I have a degree, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to do a marketing job [in my major] right way. How do I start getting some job experience?” I exposed her to an industry and I told her, “This may or may not be for you, but it could be great if you’re willing to go down this path and look at an industry where you’ll have a lot of opportunity early on in your career.” She was very eager to learn and look into other options.

What happened when she started networking?
She had two job opportunities through the networking that she did, and this June she landed a great starting job with CBRE, a worldwide industry leader. Angie had to do the work herself. She had to be the one who made the impression where someone walked away and said, “Wow, she’s really impressive.” She’s the one who had to come across as an intelligent person with a great attitude who everybody would die to hire. She did that work, I didn’t do that.

How did it feel when you saw Angie succeed?
I mean this sincerely… It’s almost as if I got hired. When I saw the email from her, I felt overwhelmed with pride. I felt like I did a little piece to get her in front of people. At the end of the day, my part was 10% and her part was 90%. She had to be the one to make the impression and convey that she was the right candidate. I walked away thinking, “Hey I helped someone.”

What would you tell other alumni who are interested in Huskies@Work?
Any alum has had someone who has been inspirational in their career. I think it’s important for us to give back, whatever that is for you, whether it’s mentoring someone coming out of college or someone in your office space, whether it’s working at a high school. Everybody needs someone to help them navigate life. It’s complicated. For young people, there’s a lot that hits you especially with the amount of information that’s out there — just through the immediacy of connectivity and social media. It’s way more stressful coming out of college in 2018 than it was when I graduated in 1986.