Leaders in business head to "boot camp"
After roughly six months living in Charleston, Mark Dickey found himself in boot camp.
Dickey, general manager of Vought Aircraft Industries, met Earl Walker, dean of The Citadel School of Business Administration, during the opening of the new North Charleston facility. That meeting led him to The Citadel during a recent rainy Friday where a variety of professionals convened for the School of Business Administration’s Mentors Association “Boot Camp.”
While not a typical military boot camp, this one is just as serious. Over two hours, the 12 business leaders that recently assembled with Walker and other members of The Citadel faculty learned about the military college, the lives of cadets and the contributions that they as leaders in business can make to both undergraduate and graduate business students.
“We think the Mentors Association is one of the best things we do at The Citadel,” Walker said. “This is not a jobs program. It is a career visioning program.”
The Mentors Association is the brainchild of professor Bruce Strauch, who teaches business law, Piloted during the 2002-2003 academic year, the program pairs students in the School of Business Administration with area business leaders who provide guidance and help students develop into the leaders of tomorrow. The participants represented a wide variety of fields, from law to dentistry.
"We thought we could put students in touch with people like you, and we could really do something special,” Strauch told the group.
Dickey said that a program such as the Mentors Association would have helped him when entering the workforce. Dickey earned his undergraduate degree in psychiatry. But he found out after an internship in the field that it really didn't interest him.
This value, he said, made it an easy call to sign on for Boot Camp.
Currently, there are 200 students and 150 mentors involved in the program. It is voluntary for students, but is strongly encouraged. Students sign up as mentees, and Connie Anthony, Mentors Association coordinator, pairs them with mentors that have common areas of interest. Once paired with a mentee, the relationship often begins over lunch and then grows organically between the student and mentor. The school urges mentors to have maximum flexibility in their role of mentorship.
The guidance of mentors often yields grand results. The School of Business Administration frequently gets positive feedback from cadets and MBA students. Frank Glenn, an alumnus of The Citadel who has been a mentor for some time but had never attended the Boot Camp, said he has witnessed the program's success. He helped his mentee make an aggressive push for an internship, and this experience later led that cadet to a bigger and better job than what he had hoped after graduation.
And while having a trusted role model and confidant is integral in helping students achieve great things, it has benefits for the mentors as well.
“You get some time with these youngsters it makes you feel a little younger," said Mentors Association Chairman Ray Johnson, an alumnus of The Citadel who retired as vice president of manufacturing for Du Pont’s fibers business.
The Citadel School of Business Administration holds its Boot Camp three times a semester. For more information about the Boot Camp or Mentor program, click here.
The School of Business Administration was formed in 2002 from The Citadel’s Department of Business Administration, a department that has been in existence for over 50 years. Presently over 650 students are enrolled from the South Carolina Corps of Cadets and 280 are enrolled in the MBA Program.
Jamie Lee is an MBA student at The Citadel who also serves as editor of the School of Business Administration's InFormation newsletter. He lives on James Island with his wife and two boxers.