By Marya Barlow

Senior Gabriella Benevento was seeking career advice and wondering if recruiting and human resources might be a good fit. Alumnus Nick Martuscelli, ‘14 B.S. Business, was looking for a way to mentor others and give back to his alma mater.

Though separated by over 2,800 miles, they forged a helpful bond through Dolphin Connect, the online career mentoring platform that encourages CSUCI students and alumni to network, exchange professional development and job advice, and explore interests and opportunities together.

LEFT TO RIGHT  Christabelle Angeles and Gabriella Benevento

“I quickly fell in love with the platform because it’s super easy to use and incredibly helpful in gathering career advice,” Benevento said. “It shaped my career path and helped me understand what I should be looking for. After speaking with Nick and members of the Dolphin Connect community, I knew in-house recruiting would be an ideal fit for me. I was able to get advice on my resume and LinkedIn profile and interview tips to help me stand out.”

“As a first-generation college student, there were a lot of times I wished I could talk to somebody who had been through college before, so when I saw that I could have the opportunity to help others through Dolphin Connect, I jumped in right away,” said Martuscelli, a recruiter at Common in New York City.

Since its launch in January, Dolphin Connect has amassed over 500 users, resulting in more than 100 connections, where two-way correspondence is established between students, alumni, faculty/staff or industry mentors. Similar to LinkedIn, Dolphin Connect displays participants’ work and educational history, interests, areas of expertise, and contact information, and allows members to message one another directly through the platform. Users can search for mentors or mentees by major, industry, location, and even by commonalities, such as being a first-generation student or participating in a certain club. Groups and discussion boards allow members to pose and answer questions and network with people of similar interests and backgrounds.

The platform’s focus on Dolphins helping Dolphins makes it exceptionally welcoming and effective. In a recent survey, users gave it a 4.64 out of 5-star rating for helping them forge useful connections.

“Every person I talked to was willing to help, offered great advice, and had real-world experience in the industry I wanted to work for,” Benevento said.

Numerous studies validate that students with mentors are more likely to graduate from college, volunteer, hold leadership positions, and become mentors themselves. Studies also show that 70-80% of jobs and internships are found through word-of-mouth referrals.

Lisa Sewell, Alumni Mentorship Coordinator and Career Counselor“Helping to establish and grow the mentor network at my alma mater feels pretty special,” said Alumni Mentorship Coordinator and Career Counselor Lisa Sewell, who manages the site. “It’s exciting to see the CSUCI community coming together to share career advice, find inspiration, and talk openly about the journey from college to career.”

Alumnus Jesse Vasquez, ’16 M.S. Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, is a biology research and development scientist who has eagerly jumped in to advise multiple students on the platform.

“Dolphin Connect allows me to reach people remotely and share my journey as a STEM professional coming from a low socioeconomic background,” Vasquez said. “As a result of mentoring, I have remained in the STEM field and am now a STEM professional. It helped me stay motivated and focused on the end goal, which was to continue my education and become a scientist. I find joy in mentoring students and sharing my experiences in hopes of inspiring the next generation.”

Dolphin Connect is one of many resources available to CSUCI students and alumni in search of mentors or mentoring opportunities. Among the other highly successful programs supporting mentoring, the University offers Peer Education and Equity Programs (PEEP), the Peer Mentor Ambassador Program, the Women of Color Peer Mentoring Program, and faculty mentoring programs.

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© Spring 2020 / Volume 25 / Number 1 / Biannual

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