Concentration: Finance and Entrepreneurship & Innovation
Jordan Schwartz’s Beedie experience revolved around mentorship – both as a mentor, and a mentee. By resurrecting and redesigning the BASS Mentorship Program. Jordan leaves behind a legacy of leadership that has acted as a shining inspiration for universities across Canada, many of which are now using his model to improve their own mentorship programs.
The BASS Mentorship Program helps first year students integrate into the school by pairing them with more senior students. When Jordan first came to Beedie the program was struggling with dwindling membership.
“Participation was high in the beginning, but then it would just drop off,” says Jordan. “People wrote it off as one of those things you sign up for, but don’t actually do.”
Talk of the program being handed over to Beedie faculty to run spurred Jordan and his peers to take over the program. They then broke it down and rebuilt it with student engagement a top priority.
“We set a deadline and said if we don’t have a program by this date then we’ll turn it over to faculty,” says Jordan. “We dug in and did a lot of interviews with people to find out what students wanted. Over the span of the next three years we completely reworked the program.”
The program was cut from eight months to four and stripped of any standardized curriculum. Mentors are now vetted and paired with mentees based on similar interests rather than similar schedules and Jordan implemented engagement initiatives such as marquee events such as Mid-Term Relief, and used social media to create an engaged community.
“It was the closest experience I had to building a business – we tried a lot of ideas, assessed them and scrapped what didn’t work,” says Jordan. “It was really experimental.”
Membership in the program subsequently increased to 140 mentees and 70 mentors, with student engagement remaining steady throughout the semester.
His innovative approach to mentorship won Jordan the Dean’s Student Service Award and an opportunity to be mentored by restaurateur, entrepreneur, and Dragon’s Den judge, Vikram Vij.
Other universities also took note of Jordan’s efforts. He has since presented his model to the presidents of mentorship programs across the country, who have emulated his efforts in customizing a framework to suit their students’ needs.
“I don’t want to be an ivory tower, so I try to open myself to students and schools,” says Jordan. “I’m curious how other schools will take what I’ve done and make it their own.”
After completing a co-op term at software developer, SAP, Jordan will now be pursuing a career in finance. He hopes to return to Beedie in a decade to see BASS completely reinvented by the next generation of Beedie students.
“The great thing about SFU is that you can pick your story in terms of what you want to be involved with,” says Jordan. “There’s no pre-defined track, which means there’s room to break things and build them and do things you didn’t know you could do.”