Mitch Schermerhorn '20 VSB and Mike Ford '79 VSB

Mitch Schermerhorn '20 VSB and Mike Ford '79 VSB

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

“I have a real desire to share a career’s worth of experiences and to give back to Villanova students. The VSB Program is the most direct and personal way I can do this right now. My career experiences started with my junior year internship as a Villanova Accounting major and continue to this day through a diverse career in the Big Four and international public companies in the U.S. and Europe. Although it’s been many years since that internship, I believe my learnings back then and since will help Mitch and give him perspective in preparation for his own career.” – Mike

“I saw the program as a good opportunity to connect with a Villanova alumnus, and develop a professional relationship with a person in my field of study. I also saw it as a chance to gain insights and advice from an experienced professional.” – Mitch

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience after nearly six months has far exceeded my expectations. Though we are still developing and fine-tuning our relationship and establishing the best way to work together, we’ve accomplished a great deal. So far, we’ve worked through some of Mitch’s more important goals and have introduced him to what it’s like to work in the public accounting and auditing field. Mitch and I learn a little more about each other every meeting and this makes each meeting more effective. We are at the point where we have a nice cadence of meetings with agendas covering short and longer-term goals. We always start by catching up on our respective lives, followed by trading ideas on our agenda topics, exploring new areas that come up and setting a tentative agenda for our next meeting.” – Mike

“The experience has certainly exceeded my expectation. Mike really makes our meetings enjoyable and enriching. One thing we discussed was what to expect in an interview. Discussing this helped me to feel more comfortable in the interview room, and better prepared to answer difficult questions.” - Mitch

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?

“We’ve been successful for three main reasons: first, we have respect for each other’s time and come prepared for every meeting. Second, we started our relationship by learning about each other and what each of us wants to get out of the VSB Mentor Program; and third, early in our time together, we set initial goals to prepare Mitch for the internship interview process and a plan to achieve them by the end of the summer. For this fall, we have set goals that will prepare Mitch for his future internship while also working on other soft skills, like making effective presentations.” - Mike

 “Logistically speaking, we keep in touch regularly and set dates and times in advance so we can make time in our busy schedules to talk. Additionally, we make an effort to set goals and bring value to meetings.” – Mitch

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

“I have really enjoyed getting to know Mitch and his career plans, hearing about the areas he’s studying and learning about what is going on at VSB. Personally, it’s been rewarding to share my perspectives on the Big Four/public accounting and broader risk management field with Mitch as well as provide him with real-world experience from an international perspective. I’ve also enjoyed sharing some of the intangibles with Mitch of what it takes to be successful – areas like leadership; negotiation and presentation skills. It’s been great to see Mitch’s knowledge, awareness and interest grow and develop in these areas.” - Mike

“The best part is having a professional in my field of interest is asking questions about what I’m studying and what I will face in the real world. I think it has already helped me to become more prepared to enter the workforce.” – Mitch

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

“Two best practices we developed during our first six months were  to talk at least monthly, even over the summer, and  to make it a point to have an agenda for each meeting; making for efficient, focused meetings. But we’ve also been flexible with our agendas. For instance, when Mitch found out that he’d have his internship interviews the first two weeks of school, we adjusted and focused our time preparing for and anticipating interview questions.” – Mike

“I think it is just like anything else, what you put in is what you get out. If you put the effort into developing a good relationship, your experience with the program will be worthwhile.” – Mitch