Entrees and Expertise - Y Magazine
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Alumni News

Entrees and Expertise

Thanks to the Take a Cougar to Lunch program, students can get help from alumni in their desired professions. The program, run by the Student Alumni Association, has now expanded beyond the Wasatch Front to alumni all over the world.

Take a Cougar to Lunch

The Take a Cougar to Lunch program has connected alumni with students seeking professional advice for eight years. The program now includes long-distance communication.

“We get constant requests for a broader range of professionals,” says program director Timothy A. McClain (’12).

The year-round program pairs a volunteer alumnus with a student seeking networking help, resume assistance, and general advice. Often the pair meets at a local restaurant, some of which offer discounts, and alumni get the opportunity to mentor students who want to work in their field.

Students say it is a great way to get a foot in the door. Paul S. Diehl (BS ’11), a recent business graduate who participated in Take a Cougar to Lunch as a student, says, “I signed up and sent an e-mail to a local bank CFO. He was ecstatic to meet. He was very helpful in explaining ideas, and I could tell he really wanted to help me with my goals.”

When evaluating the program, however, many students express the same concern: they can’t find alumni in their chosen major. “We have a mere 315 professionals in the program for 33,000 students,” McClain says. “We want to engage more professionals in different fields and increase our students’ odds of meeting with someone in their field of choice.”

In response, Student Alumni has expanded the program to include telephone calls, Internet conference calls, and other long-distance methods. Although students meeting with alumni from a distance will not get a free lunch, they will still benefit from the one-on-one professional training.

Retired, practicing, or recently graduated alumni interested in mentoring can sign up at lunch.byu.edu. Alumni set their own availability and specify their preferred medium.

“The program is a unique opportunity to truly help students maximize their potential,” Diehl says. “BYU students are fortunate to be at a school with such supportive alumni.”