Andrew Zakhary '19 CLAS and Joseph Kim '09 MBA

Andrew Zakhary '19 CLAS and Joseph Kim '09 MBA

What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?  

 “I joined the VSB Mentor Program because it seemed like a great way to create a relationship with an alumnus who would help me with both personal and professional development.” - Andrew

 “My career journey was done completely blind. As a child of an immigrant family, there was no sense of how to get a job, no established network, and a stark cultural difference between my parents and the US working world. Having learned a great deal along the way, I wanted to give back!” - Joseph

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“I didn’t expect to find a mentor who had such a similar background to mine; that made the experience especially beneficial because Joseph is someone who has been in my shoes.” - Andrew

“It was very different than what I had expected. Not having done this before, I had made up my own expectations of something more formal in terms of questions and answers. It has turned out to be more organic and rewarding, and to be honest I learned a great deal about myself as well which was a big surprise.” - Joseph

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“Our relationship is successful because it has always been a two-way street. We consistently follow through with commitments such as our coffee meet-ups or even phone calls which have built our strong rapport.” - Andrew

“For my part, empathy and authenticity in my approach were key success factors. For my mentee’s part, modesty, curiosity, fearlessness and grit helped him achieve his goals. But most importantly, his wisdom in seeking the right framing versus black and white answers to his questions set him up for success not just during this time, but also for the future.” - Joseph

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?

“The best part of having a mentor is the humility the mentee learns and will hopefully emulate once we can begin giving back too. Given that the mentors in the program are often busy with work or personal commitments, it’s great to see the dedication that alumni in the program have.” - Andrew

“This experience has helped me accept and recognize that my journey has been long and winding, and that I should be more grateful when it comes to how I perceive my own accomplishments and challenges. But when you get to witness the transformation of a young student into a promising professional, that is its own reward.” - Joseph

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“Remember that the mentors are giving their time to you, as well as the people who manage the Mentor Program to make this all possible; so make every effort to maintain the relationship and take advantage of this awesome learning opportunity!” - Andrew

“For mentees, don’t look for rote answers to “what should I do?” Have your mentor help you think through alternatives, elucidate your values and clearly see tradeoffs. You have to own your decisions and thought processes, and most importantly find YOUR North Star. For mentors, stay humble, honest and don’t be tempted to solve every problem. Sometimes, a dose of encouragement and inspiration is all that is required.” - Joseph