The first few years after graduation are often the most difficult to navigate.
Going from a structured school environment to the working world can be a tricky transition, especially if you’re on your own.
Bell has acknowledged this trend and responded with their own unique mentorship initiatives to complement their Graduate Leadership Programs. They are a fantastic way for young professionals to connect with more experienced workers in the field and ask questions about everyday work, their careers, and even their personal development.
Since implementing this program, Bell has received a lot of great feedback from their new graduates. We connected with 3 of them to learn more about their amazing experiences!
Ali’s goal after graduation was to join a big company that would support his career growth. A friend recommended that he apply for Bell’s Graduate Leadership Program, and it proved to be a perfect fit for his professional goals. Not only is the company one of the largest service providers in Canada, they’re also heavily invested in their employees’ professional development.
As part of this initiative, Ali was paired up with a mentor at Bell to help guide him through this new experience. The purpose of this program is to offer each young professional the chance to consult with someone with a high level of experience outside of their team on a regular basis. He was pleased to find out that all new graduates are placed with an individual at the executive or director level.
“Your mentor becomes your trusted friend, problem solver, and coach,” says Ali. “When I contacted [my mentor] for our first meeting, he was very welcoming and helpful. He always says I can knock on his door at any time.”
For new grads, forging this type of relationship early in their career is extremely beneficial. It can be challenging to figure out what your next move should be, whether it’s on a short-term or long-term basis. From interacting with teammates to planning big career moves, Ali says that his mentor is always available to weigh-in on his questions and concerns.
“[My mentor] is a source of inspiration – he’s always giving me new challenges and ideas,” he says. “One of the most helpful things he’s done is have me work on a PDP – that’s Professional Development Plan – and he gives me constructive advice and feedback… he’s always giving me constructive feedback, and he’s helping me achieve my objectives and create opportunities for myself.”
Ali’s work with his mentor has certainly paid off. Since he joined the team through Bell’s Graduate Leadership Program, he’s been promoted from a Technical Analyst position to a Technical Consultant. Today, he’s responsible for facilitating technical solutions for customers, managing projects, and providing general support.
“At Bell, you can advance your role and gain experience quickly,” says Ali. “Before, I never really focused on the leadership side of my job, so [my mentor is] showing me how to make good decisions and succeed in my role so I can eventually move into an even higher position in the company.”
As a university student, Maggie wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her career. Fortunately, the Bell Graduate Leadership Program offered her the chance to try out a variety of different roles within the company.
“The initial reason I was drawn to Bell was the leadership,” says Maggie. “When I was in school, a high level executive participated in the Bell information session and presented their career opportunities… it showed me how much Bell values new grads and set up a great foundation for why the GLP was the right program for me.”
Unlike most recent grads at Bell, Maggie had a specific person in mind to be her mentor. She requested to be paired with the Vice President of Corporate Stores, Nancy Tichbon, based on an inspiring presentation she had delivered during the onboarding process. Maggie says that after the presentation, she approached Nancy and struck up a great conversation.
When it came time to assign mentors, Maggie immediately requested to be paired with Nancy. Since then, they’ve worked together closely to develop her career skills. Each month, they schedule an hour-long meeting and discuss Maggie’s professional development strategy.
“Our discussions always vary between a lot of different topics,” says Maggie. “Nancy’s helped me in many facets of my life, even family and recreation, mostly due to the fact that she is such a strong female leader. She’s given me a lot of advice on how to prioritize my time and create professional goals for myself.”
This mentor-mentee relationship has had a huge positive impact on Maggie’s time at Bell so far. She says it’s given her a brand new perspective on her role and where her work can lead her. Furthermore, her mentor has introduced her to many professionals in the industry and allowed her to observe her in an executive role.
“The best piece of advice my mentor has ever given me is ‘Do what you’re good at – you’ll shine, have many accomplishments and be successful, ultimately turning something you’re good at into something you really enjoy or love (if you don’t already),’” says Maggie.
For young professionals in Bell’s Graduate Leadership Program, there is no such thing as a “typical day”. Of course, young professionals like Othmane wouldn’t have it any other way.
He chose to join the Bell team because he wanted the opportunity to try out new career roles and experience the dynamic telecommunication industry. He’s currently stationed in a Web Marketing Communication role, where he does everything from leading online projects to working on user experience optimization for the website.
When it came time to get matched with a mentor, Othmane already had someone in mind for the role. Prior to joining the Graduate Leadership Program, he had attended a conference where he heard a presentation by Nicolas Poitras, Vice President of Marketing Communications at Bell.
“I felt directly inspired by his expertise, knowledge, and mindset,” says Othmane.
After putting in his request, Othmane was excited to learn that Nicolas accepted his mentorship proposal. Each month, he meets with his mentor with a planned agenda, outlining different subjects for discussion. These meetings have supported his professional and career development immensely.
“I really wanted to work in the digital field… [Nicolas] helped guide me through the Graduate Leadership Program by helping me choose the right rotations,” says Othmane. “He tells me about his experiences, and I learn a lot from our conversations.”
Othmane says it helps to get to know your mentor on a personal level as well. He’s fortunate to share a lot of interests with Nicolas outside of work – through their meetings, Othmane found out that his mentor shares his love of new emerging digital technologies and that they’re both wine connoisseurs! Ultimately, this valuable relationship has had a huge positive impact on Othmane’s career.
“I don’t believe anyone is completely ‘self-made’… we all need support and guidance,” says Othmane. “To be honest, my time at Bell certainly wouldn’t be the same without this mentorship experience.”