After coming to the U.S. from Nigeria in 2014, Janet Adeleke felt she needed some extra help navigating college life and transitioning into the professional world.
The student at New Jersey’s Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) has found the help she needed thanks to the Sanofi US Corporate Mentor Program, the global biopharmaceutical company’s program to connects RVCC students with industry professionals to enhance their educational experience.
“Being new to the country, I knew that I needed someone to help me interact with people in a professional setting,” Adeleke says. The nursing major, who is the first in her family to attend college, plans to graduate from RVCC in May.
Adeleke’s mentor is Filomena Masullo, who is with the new hire orientation program at Sanofi Business Services – North America. Masullo says because she never attended college she “had to work twice as hard as everyone else” to succeed professionally. She therefore emphasizes to her mentee “the importance of going to school and getting an education so you can set your career goals.”
Working with Masullo in the program “has really helped me to know how to relate with other professionals,” notes Adeleke, 25, adding that she’s learned about how to dress and act in a professional setting.
Developing an enriching experience
Adeleke is one of 10 RVCC students selected through a competitive application process to participate in the mentoring program, which was launched last summer with a $40,000 grant from Sanofi NA Corporate Social Responsibility. It’s the college’s first formal corporate mentor program, and its creator, Alicia Hermo-Weaver, RVCC coordinator of internships and cooperative education, believes there’s no other program like it in the state.
Leadership teams from Sanofi and RVCC have created a structured mentoring program for students and an enriching experience for Sanofi mentors. Sanofi’s volunteer mentors are mid- and senior-level employees representing science and research, technology, marketing and communications, and business and finance.
“Being mentored during my career has been instrumental in helping me navigate my path, and when I mentor others, it’s a way I give back,” says Sanofi’s Clint Wallace, chair of the U.S. Country Council and head of NA Human Resources. “Our 10 employee mentors are giving back by providing guidance to students who represent our future workforce.”
A deeper appreciation
One of those Sanofi mentors, Jeffrey Seguritan, senior manager of performance analytics and reporting for the company’s U.S. Diabetes & Cardiovascular Business Unit, works with RVCC student Carlos Pareja. It’s Seguritan’s first experience mentoring a college student.
“I have gained appreciation for the little things toward shaping one’s career, such as making a great first impression, applying small steps toward better organization, and taking those pauses to think and reflect on critical situations,” Seguritan says. “It’s been a very rewarding experience for me.”
Pareja, 24, says his mentor has helped him prepare for interviews, which have resulted in an acceptance into a prestigious hospital internship program. Pareja, who worked as a medic in the Navy for five years before attending RVCC, plans to study biology or neuroscience after graduating from RVCC this spring and eventually attend medical school.
Seminars and more
Pareja, Seguritan, Masullo and Adeleke join all of the mentors and mentees for monthly meetings at RVCC’s Branchburg campus and are encouraged to connect with each other via Skype for additional meetings. As part of the project, RVCC also has partnered with INROADS, a globally recognized internship program that also provides comprehensive training and development of both mentors and mentees.
During the meetings, students explore career opportunities and develop strategies for their professional, academic and social success. Students also attend special seminars designed to build a bridge between college and work. All of the experiences enable participants to explore different career paths and to promote teamwork and leadership skills necessary to succeed in a competitive, global economy.
The mentoring program will culminate with a job shadow day at Sanofi in April, along with a closing ceremony in May honoring both the mentors and the mentees. Students who successfully meet all of the program’s requirement also receive a $1,500 scholarship.
Because of the program’s success, Sanofi US has committed to funding the program for the 2018-2019 academic year with 15 RVCC students. All of the students must have completed at least a year of college before applying to the program.