A new student-run organization aims to provide professional mentorship for students.
Bruin Bridges, which launched in April and held its first meeting Friday, connects students to leaders in various industries who will advise and mentor them. Twenty-one students are participating in the program this quarter.
Giulia Sperandio, president of Bruin Bridges and a third-year economics and communication student, said Marc E. Lipson, her mentor and senior vice president of wealth management at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, wanted to expand their existing relationship and bring professional mentorship to other UCLA students.
Sperandio said Lipson, whom she met at an internship at Merrill Lynch in spring 2016, plans to expand the group’s professional network by asking people he knows to serve as mentors for other students.
Lipson said he wants to offer Bruin Bridges students chances to have relationships as mutually fulfilling as his.
“(Professional contacts) have a desire to share their story and their wisdom and give back to the new generation,” he said. “Giving people the tools to succeed and helping them to realize that they had the tools all along is a privilege, and the opportunity to help develop a new type of community that is supportive and collaborative is the greatest privilege I’ve ever had.”
Jeremiah Barnett, one of the club’s senior vice presidents and a fourth-year political science student, said mentors can help students decide what kind of career they want to pursue. An alumnus who served as his mentor helped him decide not to pursue a career in law, he said.
“He completely changed my perspective and allowed me to see why I was making certain decisions and made me ask questions that I didn’t want to answer before, and ultimately changed my life,” he said.
Barnett added he thinks the club will help consolidate career preparation resources, such as resume help and interviewing workshops, and improve networking opportunities on campus.
“I went to all the networking events, all the (UCLA) Career Center events, soft skill and social media events, but it was a very fragmented experience, where I had to find all the separate pieces of the puzzle and put it together,” he said.
Lipson said many mentoring relationships between students and professionals are unsuccessful because they do not have the same expectations of the relationship. He added he is able to have a successful partnership with Sperandio because they are mutually invested in one another and hold each other accountable.
“This dynamic relationship is my guiding light,” he said. “The more you give, the richer and more rewarding the experience.”
Sperandio said the organization is in its pilot stage and is unsure whether or not it will partner with other campus career services in the future.
“Those organizations are so big that they have a lot of bureaucracy, and we want to give the most personalized experience to every member,” she said. “In the future we might try to see the possibilities (of partnering with) UCLA.”
The Career Center said in an email statement that it is open to working with the new group and excited to see students taking the initiative to create new professional opportunities for themselves and others.
Sperandio and Barnett said the group is planning to expand the program and provide talks, workshops and networking events that will be open to the UCLA community.
Sperandio said the club’s board thinks it is important that its members come from diverse personal and academic backgrounds.
“I’m a minority student myself, an international student and a Latina,” she said. “My parents didn’t have much money or access to education, so we want to attract more diverse students because we want (diverse) opinions and backgrounds.”