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The Water Cooler, January 2021

In this edition of the Water Cooler we celebrate mentors and National Mentoring Month!


We present articles on finding and building relationships with mentors, share stories about Jayhawks who mentor, and celebrate alumni who give back to the university through the gift of mentorship.  


We also continue our commitment to bring you pieces that tackle the important work of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and feature a great job opportunity with Matterport, a leader in 3D technology with an office in Lawrence, as well as our great Jayhawk business partner, KJO Media.  


We hope you will take the time this month to thank and recognize the mentors in your lives and consider becoming a mentor for KU students by joining KU Mentoring.  

Rock Chalk.


Howard Graham, g’08, PhD’19

Director of the Jayhawk Career Network

We hope you will take the time this month to thank and recognize the mentors in your lives and consider becoming a mentor for KU students by joining KU Mentoring.




What is National Mentoring Month?

Thank you to our mentors! Please join us as we recognize, celebrate, and feature Jayhawk mentors all month long.


During National Mentoring Month, the KU Alumni Association is hosting events for students in partnership with the University Career Center and other university partners. Alumni mentors are highlighted throughout the month on social media and in email communications. And, we share stories of successful mentorships between KU alumni and students.


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10 Tips for finding a mentor – and making the relationship count

Regardless of where you are in your career—a recent graduate, a new manager, or a seasoned professional—everyone can use a mentor to help guide them.


“We know from research that people with mentors get promoted faster, earn a higher salary, and are more satisfied with their careers,” says Wendy Murphy, an associate professor of management at Babson College and author of Strategic Relationships at Work: Creating Your Circle of Mentors, Sponsors, and Peers for Success in Business and Life.


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What efficient mentorship looks like

When we’re feeling drained, mentoring is one of the tasks that tends to fall by the wayside. But mentors don’t have to burn themselves out to be helpful and effective. This approach, called “fuel-efficient mentoring” by the authors, suggests how to be a mentor in an efficient manner that benefits mentees, growing their confidence and their network, but also conserves your energy.


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10 Reasons why a mentor is a must

As an entrepreneur, it’s exciting to go it alone and create something on your own. However, the reality is that, while you have a great idea, you may not know exactly what you should be doing with your business at which times to develop it into a sustainable business.


Read ten other reasons why you need someone like a mentor.



What kind of networker are you?

Marissa King, professor at Yale School of Management, has studied the strengths and weaknesses of different types of social networks. She argues that most of us have a natural style of networking: we favor tight social circles, or brokering across varied groups, or having an expansive list of contacts. But she says we can also tweak the way we build relationships to meet our changing needs.




Compassionate Conversations



Talking about race at work: opportunities for courageous leadership at every level

Whether you recognize it or not, race is a topic of conversation in your workplace. It is often hidden beneath the surface, obvious only to the person who is on the receiving end of questions and comments.


The bigger question is, how prepared are your supervisors, managers and leaders to recognize, initiate and navigate the often difficult conversations that need to be had when topics related to race arise in everyday workplace interactions?


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4 steps compassionate leaders take before a tough conversation

Strong leadership requires difficult conversations that push you out of your comfort zone, writes Joseph Grenny, a social scientist for business performance, for Harvard Business Review.


We often avoid these conversations because we’re nervous that we’ll say the wrong thing. But Grenny argues that when it comes to “moments of emotional or political risk,” what you say during the conversation matters less than how you prepare for it beforehand.


To ensure tough workplace conversations go smoothly, he recommends four preparation tactics.


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Campus Connections



National Mentoring Month | Mentor Spotlight: Mercedes Bounthapanya

Mercedes Bounthapanya earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics in 2018 and works as a diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator for KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. As a student, Mercedes worked as a career center specialist, peer advisor, and a peer educator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. She was also a member of Sigma Psi Zeta sorority.


“One of my mentors is my former boss, Nicole Hodges Persley. She helped me gain confidence in the work I do, and reminded me that I am worthy of the goals I set. Most, if not all, of my mentors validated my work and believed in me, and that pushed me to continue improving myself! Having someone believe in you really makes a world of a difference.”


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Jayhawks on KU Mentoring

“Alyssa was extremely understanding of my barriers and struggle finding a job in the Chicago market. She listened to my story and helped me find out companies and people to network with. I’m so thankful for my time with Alyssa and am more confident in my job search.”


Jacqueline Entzminger, mentee


Retired physicians take on coaching roles to aid medical students

When the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita needed to find coaches for its medical students, it drafted some retired physicians living in the Wichita area.


Coaching differs from mentoring or advising in that coaching is about self-actualization for the student and helping them become better versions of themselves.

Read more



Take advantage of online undergraduate and graduate programs

KU Edwards Campus online degrees and certificate programs make it easy to learn remotely, on a flexible schedule. Learning options include undergraduate certificates and programs along with graduate degrees and certificates.


Read more


Featured Job



Senior Software Engineer

Matterport is looking for an enthusiastic Senior Software Engineer to join our 3D Experiences team. You’ll be responsible for improving the user experience of our 3D viewing and editing applications, which get more than 100 million views a month. The ideal candidate is an experienced engineer with a strong web UI development skill set, or experience in 3D graphics and game development.




Featured Jayhawk Business



KJO Media

Jayhawk: T.J. Kilian, j’01

Location: Westwood, KS


KJO is a full service video production company based in Kansas City. Specializing in corporate video production, marketing video production, commercial advertising, social media and more.


Support KJO Media and more KU businesses on the Jayhawk Business Directory.




Explore Graduate School Week

KU Graduate Admissions is excited to host a series of virtual events for prospective students to learn about opportunities for graduate study. General sessions will highlight what graduate school is about, the application and admission process, options for funding, and employment opportunities with a graduate degree. KU’s academic schools, departments and programs will then offer discipline- or program-specific sessions each afternoon.

Jan. 19-22


The Empathy Edge: Why Compassion Fuels Leadership Success and How to Build Your Empathy Muscle

Join brand strategist Maria Ross as she shares the value of compassion as an engine for success. You’ll learn five concrete ways to flex your empathy muscles for tremendous success and how you can amplify empathy through your work to create a better world.

11 a.m. CT
Thursday, Jan. 21


Digital Flourishing: Strategies for Fostering Wellness in an Era of Remote Work

It’s time to explore new strategies for creating a practical sense of balance. In this enlightening presentation, happiness expert Amy Blankson will present a new digital flourishing model that will help you self-assess and strategize how to create a dynamic sense of balance in an otherwise unpredictable world.

11 a.m. CT
Wednesday, Jan. 27

More News

Nicole Reiz

Mentor Spotlight: Nicole Reiz

Nicole Reiz is a program manager at the KU College Office of Graduate Affairs. Reiz can help students with applying & navigating a graduate degree, resume review, transitioning from graduate school into your career and more.
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Trail’s end

This most-unusual school year started in a most-unexpected fashion, when we were joined at The Wheel’s first chicken-fried steak lunch by a fit young trekker making his way from Delaware to California.
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Papa Keno’s historic feel in luxurious new digs

Lifetimes of daily adult decisions begin the day freshmen arrive in Lawrence. Many are cursory; others resonate for years. So it is, of course, with the choice of a favored downtown pizza joint.
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