The adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” is proving true for University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students and their alumni mentors.
More than a year ago, UW Oshkosh alumnus Walter Busalacchi ’72, of Green Bay, received an email from UWO student Andrew Ingebrigtson, of Germantown, seeking advice as a mentor in the human resources career field.
“I sought out a mentor, because I wanted to supplement my classroom experience by learning from human resources professionals out in the field,” said Ingebrigtson .
Busalacchi readily accepted Ingebrigtson’s request for mentorship. Now retired, he has more than 20 years of experience in human resource management while working for Aetna, one of the leading Fortune 500 companies.
Since then, Busalacchi and Ingebrigtson’s mentoring relationship has grown. The two correspond on a weekly basis. Busalacchi even took Ingebrigtson out to dinner in celebration of Ingebrigtson’s December 2010 graduation.
Busalacchi encourages UWO alumni to mentor current students and fellow alumni for the satisfaction of “helping and serving and giving back.”
Busalacchi, who received his bachelor’s degree from UWO in secondary education with an emphasis in social science, is passionate about teaching and mentoring.
“If you can help someone else avoid a problem or mistake you made, that’s very gratifying,” he said.
Ingebrigtson’s mentorship experience with Busalacchi has gone above and beyond his expectations.
“Originally, I was looking for a human resources executive that I could discuss career development and human resources issues with. Not only was Walt willing to discuss that with me, but he was also willing to discuss personal development and give me advice on my job search.”
Ingebrigtson got in touch with Busalacchi through the former UWO Career Service’s eMentors program, which listed hundreds of alumni and professionals willing to mentor students.
Recently, UWO’s Alumni Relations Office transitioned the eMentors program over to the user-friendly professional social networking tool, LinkedIn. The new offering, called Mentor Network, is a subgroup of the “University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Alumni Association” LinkedIn group.
Networking via social media is proving to be essential for students to find employment opportunities. Hiring professionals often post positions on LinkedIn. At the same time, professionals networking via LinkedIn may “Recommend” someone and praise their professional qualities.
Ingebrigtson said the Mentor Network gives students access “to experienced professionals who will talk career and personal development,” offering a “competitive advantage” over other job seekers scouring the job market.
“One dimension of wisdom is the ability to learn from others’ mistakes,” said Busalacchi, who believes that mentoring helps students progress. However, he added, students always should put their own “imprint” on their professional journey.