Kyle DeMerlis '20 CLAS and Michael Ottaunick '14 VSB

Kyle DeMerlis '20 CLAS and Michael Ottaunick '14 VSB

1. What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?   

“I’m fortunate to have access to the VSB Mentor Program through the academic year business minor program at Villanova School of Business. I knew I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be paired with an alumnus who’s eager to guide me through my professional development. I was almost convinced that there had to be a “catch” because it sounded too good to be true. After attending the initial information session, the thought occurred to me that I didn’t need the Chronus mentor matching system to find a mentor because I already had one in Michael. Michael and I met on a service and justice experience through Villanova’s campus ministry in January of 2018. He was the graduate leader for our trip and we really bonded over the course of that week.” – Kyle

“I'm happy to say that Kyle inspired me to be a VSB mentor. We have a little bit of a unique mentor/mentee story in that we already knew each other before the start of the program. We met during a Villanova break trip where I was serving as the group's alumni advisor. I had a great experience working with current students and discovered that Kyle and I have a lot in common. I could also see that he is especially thoughtful and takes a lot of pride in his work, so it was easy to say yes when he asked if I would like to be his mentor!” - Michael

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“I’ve been able to do so much more through the VSB Mentor Program than I could’ve ever anticipated. For instance, I attended the summer meetup in NYC and shadowed Michael while I was in town. He gave me a thorough rundown of GLG and his role within the company, as well as setting up a meeting for me with his colleague who has worked on political campaigns, something I’m interested in. Overall, I expected my mentor to be a great resource, but I never expected him to be a great friend, too.” – Kyle

“The one-on-one mentoring experience has been great, but beyond that, I've been surprised by the mentoring program events, like "Adulting in NYC" and the Summer Meetups. These have served as  additional ways of giving back to current students.” - Michael

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?

“Our mentorship is unique because Michael and I both knew each other before joining the VSB Mentor Program. We got to know one another over a week of community service and discovered common passions for campus ministry, Villanova basketball, and politics, among others. Most importantly, above any other shared interest, is our respect for each other and the mentoring relationship. We both put effort into it, evidenced by frequent checkups and phone calls, often about internships or other professional topics, but sometimes about Big East hoops, as well.” – Kyle

“Both sides need to be invested in the relationship, and the fact that I know Kyle well outside of the program helps me as a mentor because I am genuinely rooting for his success even more. I can be sure that any extra help I provide is going to pay off. My favorite example of this when Kyle mentioned that he had gone to a Villanova Career Fair and enjoyed his conversation with the folks at the Vanguard booth. My friend and classmate, Matt Kaehler CLAS ‘14, [SW2] has worked at Vanguard for the last four years, so I thought it would be great to set them up on a phone call. It turned out Kyle made such a good impression that Matt invited him onsite to Vanguard's campus and scheduled a day of meet and greets. The moral of the story is that it's easy to be a good mentor when you have a close relationship with your mentee, and you can trust them to capitalize on the opportunities you offer up.” - Michael

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

“Michael is very connected, so he’s been able to help me learn about a variety of career paths and companies with his network. For instance, I expressed interest in Vanguard and he put me in touch with one of his best friends who happens to work there. I spoke with his friend on the phone about Vanguard and how he ended up there, eventually providing me with the opportunity to shadow him at Vanguard for a day.” - Kyle

“Even though we don't necessarily have the same career goals, I've had a great time introducing Kyle to people in my network who have experience in his areas of interest. For example, he had spent the summer supporting political campaigns in Pennsylvania, so I introduced him to one of my fellow GLG marketers who worked on political campaigns after college and then went on to work in the White House. It was great to hear them discuss potential career paths and the skills he would like to be building now. Each time I put Kyle in touch with someone else, it's great to hear how he's internalized the key takeaways and put them into action.” – Michael

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

“Try to connect with one another on a personal level in addition to a professional or academic one. Villanova basketball is a great topic for casual conversation, but there are probably other shared passions between a mentor and mentee. Finding it can be difficult, and granted Michael and I met because of our shared passion, campus ministry and service, however, this background is crucial to the mutual respect and trust that makes our mentorship and our friendship successful.” – Kyle

“Invest the right amount of time in the getting-to-know-you phone calls. Obviously not every pair has the benefit of knowing each other beforehand, but you can build that type of close relationship within the program. Truly caring about the success of your mentee leads to all sorts of great moments, and building trust helps both parties get what they are looking for out of the partnership.” - Michaell