Florida native Jeff Livingston W08, now a principal with a private equity firm in New York, is getting a feel for what it means to be a father figure after shepherding then-sophomore Rajan Sheth through tough career choices.Livingston and Sheth had several conversations throughout the 2014-2015 school year discussing how Sheth might best position himself for the future. Should Sheth pursue an internship in management consulting or in finance? In the latter, would it be best to work at a boutique shop or at an investment bank? And where? Houston? Dallas? San Francisco? New York? Washington?
Big decisions—if you’re a sophomore and haven’t even turned 21.
“He’s thinking a lot about how he wants to shape a career trajectory beyond Wharton,” Livingston says.
That’s precisely the goal of the Sophomore-Alumni Mentorship Program (SAMP), a mentorship initiative launched by the Wharton Council and the Wharton Undergraduate Alumni Relations Council (WARC), in conjunction with the School’s Undergraduate Program.
The more that sophomores can think about career options, the better they can focus on classes, internships and job searches during their junior and senior years. Of course, Wharton students get this.
Wharton senior Jack Laszlo, co-chair of WARC, expects more than 90 sophomores to explore SAMP in the 2015-2016 school year, a 33 percent increase from the past year. On the mentor side, 45 alums volunteered last year, and Laszlo expects to sign up more in 2015-2016—hopefully by as many as 30 to 50 more mentors.
But the pressure is on to increase the number of mentors to match supply with demand—particularly for alumni in technology, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing and nonprofit management.
“We want to make sure we get better every year, so we’re going to expand the program,” says Vincent Criscuolo, a member of the Class of 2017 and co-chair of WARC.
Livingston, who works in New York, and Sheth, who was in Philadelphia, never met face to face but spoke over the phone every couple of months. He enjoyed the experience enough that he plans to mentor again. For the foreseeable future he has no plans to drop his relationship with Sheth, who signed on for a summer internship at a boutique finance house in Houston.
“I don’t think the relationship with Rajan will change,” Livingston says. “You don’t see it as a program, but a catalyst for a connection.”