ZAP Beefs Up Student-Mentoring Efforts
By Keith Morelli
TAMPA (May 22, 2018) -- The Zimmerman Advertising Program has ramped up its student-mentoring efforts to counsel younger students enrolled in the program that meshes advertising with the business of marketing. ZAP students complete a strong internship program, education abroad and live on campus together in a living-learning community.
It's an expansion of existing and highly successful Bulls Business Community initiative and Corporate Mentor Program model of providing student mentors for incoming freshmen.
Student mentors will begin taking ZAP freshmen under their wings and advising them about classes, internships, travel abroad opportunities and other matters related to the program. Sparking the drive are Muma College of Business academic advisors Monica Hermann and Nadine Samardzija.
"This program is important because it helps students transition from high school to college and it impacts overall student success, including graduation and retention rates," said Samardzija. "The changes we made will help ensure that mentees will receive intentional mentoring throughout the entire year.
"In addition, we wanted to make sure that mentors also get something out of this experience," she said. "This is why we added monthly meetings in which we will discuss servant-leadership characteristics with the mentors and how they apply to mentoring and the real world."
The highly selective, five-year program, which offers a bachelor's degree in business advertising and a master's degree in mass communications to a limited number of students, is headed by Muma College of Business Marketing Instructor Carol Osborne.
She said Hermann and Samardzija have interviewed students from three ZAP cohorts, looking for those who want to mentor incoming students.
"The mentors recognize this leadership opportunity as a way to develop their skills and enrich their résumés all while benefitting the younger students with their knowledge of the program from living together in the unique Living-Learning Community to navigating the demands of an honors program with required courses, internships, study aboard and that crowd favorite, business calculus.
"The hardest part of the mentoring program is turning away students who earnestly want to help lead ZAP students and contribute to USF," Osborne said.
Twelve students have signed up to be mentors for the coming 2018-19 academic year, she said. That's one mentor for three mentees.
"The best part of the mentoring program is new students feeling at ease and knowing that they have fellow students who can explain things, support them, tell them yes, calculus is hard but you can ace it," Osborne said. They also work to get younger students into gaming, sports, clubs and other experiences.
"There is a huge list of unknowns for the newbies, who appreciate having someone around who's done it before," Osborne said.
ZAP is unique in that it allows creative people to bridge the gap between business and strategy, said Alexis Esparza, one of the student mentors who was scheduled to be a mentor in the fall. She said she made positive connections with program mentors as a young student.
"Their advice and friendship is what made me excited about the mentor program and ZAP's potential," Esparza said. "If there was ever a moment I needed someone to talk to, or another set of eyes on a project, I knew that I could rely on (my mentors) to help me."
So, she felt an obligation to give back to the program.
"Becoming a mentor is something that I have looked forward to ever since I met those who guided me through my challenges," Esparza said. "Paying their kindness forward is my main goal. Through this position, I hope to make genuine connections with the future advertising and marketing leaders by providing my friendship and dedication to their success."
Marcus Daffner, another ZAP student who selected to be a mentor, has a different motivation.
"My experience as a mentee my freshman year in ZAP was, unfortunately, subpar," he said. "I barely knew or met with my mentor so it was kind of a disappointing experience. When I applied to become a mentor, I promised to make sure that I would have a good relationship with my mentees as well as the incoming cohort.
"I always made a point of visiting their residential hall common area to hang out and talk with them for at least an hour every week," he said. "During my time as a mentor, one of my mentees was not happy at all with his choice of being an advertising major. He was a very shy student who kept to himself most of the time. He would come to me to discuss his options and eventually, I was able to assist him in successfully switching his major to geology, something that suited him much better than advertising. While he is no longer a member of ZAP, I still consider him my mentee and keep in touch with him."