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M&T Mentorship Program Provides Wealth of Opportunities for Buffalo State Students

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A mentorship program pairing Buffalo State students with M&T Bank professionals is continuing for a third academic year and expanding to include paid internships in summer 2023.

“We’re so excited by this new development in our partnership,” said Katie Welsted, director of corporate and foundation relations in Buffalo State’s Institutional Advancement Office.

M&T is anticipating six paid internships in its Banking Services division and two in its Legal division specifically for Buffalo State students next summer, with the hope that the mentees will want to apply, Welsted said. She added that the bank is earmarking two of those internships for students in the college’s Africana studies program, which also formed a new partnership with M&T.

“The bank decided to plan for paid internships for Buffalo State students because we’ve had such wonderful experiences with the mentees and are always looking at ways to enhance our relationship with the college” said Kara Handzlik, senior associate general counsel at M&T, who was integral to getting the mentorship program off the ground in fall 2020.

Leslie Wallace, ’93, banking services manager and Buffalo State alumna, said, “Enabling students to have professional paid work experience before graduating will give them an advantage in their own personal development and allow them to point to that experience when applying for a job.”

Handzlik worked with Jim Finnerty, Buffalo State’s vice president for institutional advancement, and Laura O’Hara, chief legal officer for M&T and a member of the Buffalo State College Foundation Board of Directors, to develop the program.

For the 2022–2023 academic year, M&T selected 24 mentees from 29 applications across academic disciplines, and more students may be added as additional mentors become available.

The mentees meet virtually with their mentors one-on-one at least once a month to discuss how to create strong résumés and bone up on interviewing and networking skills. Some mentors are in Buffalo while others work in other states.

“Students have asked their mentors philosophical questions such as, How do I figure out what I want to do with my life? in addition to more pragmatic requests for reviews of résumés and cover letters,” said Amy McMillan, director of Buffalo State’s Muriel A. Howard Honors Program. In its pilot year, the mentorship program was open only to honors students, and McMillan orchestrated recruitment and served as the campus liaison to the program.

Last year, the program was opened to the entire campus, and M&T added mentors from other divisions.

The efforts paid off. Previous mentee Dawn Jones obtained an internship after her mentorship ended, and Ismail Ali, Reilly Kelly, and Oneika Webb landed full-time jobs at M&T.

M&T hosted a kickoff celebration for this year’s participants on October 4 in Buffalo State’s LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center. It was a huge success, McMillan said, with mentors and mentees having the opportunity to meet in a relaxed environment and ask questions.

The mentorship program is now moving from McMillan’s purview to the college’s Career and Professional Education Center (CAPE).

“Our staff members are excited to build on the great work of Dr. McMillan,” said Denise Harris, director of CAPE. “We will continue building on the strong foundation of this mentoring program and look to bring additional community partner mentors to our students in the future.”