The Naveen Jindal School of Management offers a unique course that can help place students on a fast track to becoming better leaders and managers of people.
Taught by Tom Henderson, assistant dean of the undergraduate programs, Student Leadership (UNIV 4074) is a mentorship course offered during the fall and spring. Although the course has been in place for several semesters, beginning this fall, students who successfully pass it have the added benefit of earning an International Mentor Training Program Certification by the College Reading & Learning Association.
Although there are no formal prerequisites for enrolling in the course, students are expected to have some academic experience, already have worked with a mentor and be familiar with student life at UT Dallas and JSOM. Three hours of classroom instruction per week teach them the basics of mentoring. Topics include tutoring, the role of the mentor, do’s and don’ts of a peer mentor, professional ethics, establishing rapport and motivating mentees.
After seven weeks in class, each student is assigned a mentee — usually a new or transfer student who has expressed a willingness to be mentored. To earn the certification, students must mentor for a minimum of 50 hours and be evaluated by their mentee.
“They develop tangible, pragmatic mentoring skills,” Henderson said. “By the end of the course, they know what mentoring is, what it isn’t, and they know how to mentor more effectively.”
Chandler Halverson, a junior business administration major, has taken the course twice and has learned how to navigate the intricacies of the mentoring process. The skills he has learned have been invaluable, he said.
“Being able to communicate and express yourself, your thoughts, your ideas, in a way that would connect to different people in different ways,” he said, “that’s a skill you learn through mentoring.”
As a mentor, he has learned how to lead without being a boss and how to manage without dictating.
“It is a great opportunity to really fine-tune, hone in and build your ability to manage, lead and communicate with other people,” he said. “You can grow yourself and help somebody else at the same time.”
Henderson pointed out that a Bachelor of Science degree at the Jindal School prepares future business professionals well by focusing on critical thinking and technical skills. Well-rounded leaders, he said, can further benefit from taking courses such as this one that are not as commonly found within business degree plans at the undergraduate level.
Learning how to mentor people serves business students well since their career paths may eventually put them a leadership position. For Jessica Munoz Fonseca, a senior marketing major who took the course when she was a junior, effective leadership requires an outward focus.
“Being a mentor is definitely not about yourself,” she said. “It’s not what you can gain out of it. Giving selflessly to somebody — of your time and of your ability. That’s what I feel makes not only a good mentor but also a good leader.”
— Jimmie R. Markham