Meet the Mentor
In a very complex year for the world of education, this project by Avio Aero HR together with the main Italian universities keeps universities and enterprises’ world connected to one another.
As is well known, there are currently several critical issues impacting on the world of students and therefore universities. Many extra-curricular activities, workshops, and, in particular, opportunities for meetings (often in person, in the form of events) between the business world and students or recent graduates at universities have therefore had to be transformed, postponed, or reorganized.
It was in this context that the Avio Aero On Campus initiative had to go digital and this new format gave space to the usual opportunities that can arise from a very complex situation such as the current global emergency. Thus, Avio Aero’s Talent Acquisition team partnered with departments and professors in its collaboration network with Italian universities to create a new format to retain and possibly even enhance the value for students of meetings between universities and companies.
“Leveraging cornerstones of our culture, such as Inclusion & Diversity and STEM professions”, says Avio Aero Talent Development Leader, Luigi Palmieri, “we’ve reinvented a new format that, through online webinars organized with each university, allows students not only to immerse themselves in our company, but to consider a whole series of skills and key characteristics to build their own professional profiles. We also included a rewarding initiative for the top participants who challenged themselves by taking on their first professional interview.”
"Leveraging cornerstones of our culture, such as Inclusion & Diversity and STEM professions we’ve reinvented a new format that allows students to consider a whole series of skills and key characteristics to build their own professional profiles"
An absolute first for Human Resources at GE, this exchange and interaction with students is an initiative from the Italian team and it also includes the opportunity for an On Demand Video Interview for students. “We called it Career Mentoring”, explains Umberto Certani, Talent Acquisition & University Relations Leader. “After sharing and coordinating with teaching staff, we launched the webinars aimed at students in 4th year or at the beginning of 5th year. During the webinars, students were also able to learn more about how to draft a CV or how to approach an interview, including a remote interview. Finally, on a voluntary basis, they were able to apply for the video interview and in turn be selected for the mentorship program.”
During a global crisis that sees both the postponement of in-person events and also heavy contraction of employment in almost all sectors, research and cultivation of talent must readjust and focus on mental flexibility as well as the strengthening of soft skills. “The main purpose is to help participants make choices for their future, increase their awareness and self-analytical ability, whilst at the same time allowing them to learn about the business environment and the logic of the market, create their first direct contacts, and even network”, adds Certani.
For each university, students participating in the webinars can request a video interview. The best two students, selected following the interviews, get to take part in Career Mentoring: a course consisting of two sessions, each lasting about an hour, with both HR and functional leaders of Avio Aero, focused on their entry into and growth in the world of work.
"The main purpose is to help participants make choices for their future, increase their awareness and self-analytical ability, whilst at the same time allowing them to learn about the business environment and the logic of the market, creating their own network"
The project initially involved the University of Naples Federico II and Politecnico di Torino, universities historically linked to the company and “neighbors” of the two most populous sites, Pomigliano and Rivalta respectively. The project is, however, expected to continue with the University of Genoa, UniSalento, the Polytechnic University of Bari, the University of Pisa and the ESCP Business School.
Paolo Maggiore, Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Politecnico di Torino, joined this year’s initiative with great interest and praised its success despite the virtual nature of the classroom. “I believe that for teaching staff these opportunities to meet the world of industry offer better awareness of the specific requirements of the labor market”, said Prof. Maggiore.
“Beyond the immediate benefits that this entails in relation to the so-called ‘third mission’ of universities - whereby a process of exchange is established between universities and the regions in which they are located - in my opinion, such awareness also enables undeniable improvements in the effectiveness of teaching by strengthening its function as a bridge to the real world.”
Prof. Maggiore is intrigued by the value that such experiences can have for students in the context of learning skills, as well as for their purely professional training. “Through mentorship, students directly enrich their cultural knowledge. It could be argued that these processes should begin at the end of academic training. In my opinion, beginning such processes earlier enables better learning, even of the most theoretical concepts, thanks to the focus on training aims. It is interesting to have students from different years of enrolment and different degree courses involved. This allows word of mouth to spread between ‘generations’”, adds the professor, who amusingly says that he now has to repeat the initiative so as not to disappoint the expectations of students in other classes.
"Through mentorship, students directly enrich their cultural knowledge. It could be argued that these processes should begin at the end of academic training. In my opinion, beginning such processes earlier enables better learning,"
The student’s voice is that of 27-year-old Mirko Zaccara. After graduating in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Naples Federico II, Mirko is pursuing a PhD in Thermal Fluid Dynamics and has been selected for Avio Aero’s Career Mentoring. “I immediately recognized in this project a potential opportunity for growth for my future and I found the selection method based on the On-Demand Video Interview very stimulating”, says Mirko. “Although it takes place without a physical interviewer, the candidate has the chance to choose the most suitable moment to take the interview, finding the confidence and ease needed for concentration, a fundamental aspect for a successful interview.”
Another aspect that impressed Mirko was the expertise, extreme professionalism, friendliness, and sensitivity that Avio Aero’s professionals used to guide him through his expectations. “In my opinion, in a period like the one we’re living in where uncertainty is the main factor, being able to precisely outline what professional goals you want to achieve is a tough challenge. Being self-critical and introspective is required for professional (and personal) growth, but it’s not a common subject of study or training.”
Learning these skills for Mirko has meant engaging in critical observation of his own professional career, in order to outline the common thread to maximize its value. “This experience has also allowed me to work a lot on myself, helping me to recognize which aspects of my personality impact on my professional attitude and, finally, increasing my determination to face difficulties and unexpected events that are commonplace in the world of work.”
"In a period like the one we’re living in, being able to precisely outline what professional goals you want to achieve is a tough challenge. Being self-critical and introspective is required for professional growth, but it’s not a common subject of study or training"
In Mirko Zaccara’s experience, Career Mentoring can be a unique and crucial opportunity for students, especially undergraduates, to broaden their horizons and job prospects through constructive criticism, starting to build their own network. “I see my professional future built on dynamism, attention to detail, enthusiasm, and motivation, perhaps within an international company capable of implementing cutting-edge engineering technologies.”