Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On the Shoulders of Giants

The Mentorship Program has been with the Energy Club since its inception. In the early days, as alumni began to trickle out into engaging careers as entrepreneurs and consultants, policymakers and advisors, we quickly realized the need to stay connected with leading professionals moving out from MIT. One night, past-VP Kristian Bodek took matters into his own hands. After a few hours scouring MIT’s Infinite Connection he had a lengthy list of impressive alumni working in energy: the Mentorship Program was born.

From the beginning, the program was set up to intelligently pair emerging student leaders with alumni in the energy field. Over three years, the program has connected over 150 alumni and students. From the feedback I’ve received, mentorship has opened the eyes of students to professional opportunities—and it’s forged solid relationships between the next generation of leaders and those who have gone before us.

Last Tuesday evening, we celebrated the third anniversary of the program with a Reception in MIT’s Stata Center. Students and alumni mingled together, enjoying sushi and hors d’oeuvres in a relaxed environment. Discussions weaved through energy storage technologies, lingered in renewable power and electricity markets before moving on to entrepreneurship and next-generation solutions to energy challenges.

In the midst of the event, Arunas Chesonis (’84) delivered an entertaining address on his experiences in founding the leading business telecommunications company, PAETEC, and the role of the Chesonis Family Foundation in supporting clean technology research at MIT. “Follow your passion” was his closing advice to up-and-coming energy entrepreneurs.

The bar had closed and the tables were cleared long before participants finally trickled out the doors. It was clear that the conversations would continue informally between mentors and students as they meet one-on-one over the coming weeks.

I was struck by the excitement stirred up at the reception. One alum at the event put it to me succinctly: connecting emerging student leaders with professionals is “one of the most important things that the Energy Club does”. I felt the same way last year, when Club founder Dave Danielson hosted the second Mentorship Reception; this was the event that first got me excited about being involved with the Club.

I guess it should come as no surprise that it’s the people involved in the Club, both past and present, that make it the dynamic, creative group that it is. And I’m honored to be a part of that spirit. On behalf of all of us Clubbers at MIT: thank you mentors!

p.s. Thanks as well to Melissa Webster, Katherine Dykes, our fabulous host Beth Conlin, Therese Henderson and the MIT event staff for their help with Reception.

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