Ashesi Mentoring Program Connects Students with Industry Professionals

February 4, 2019
The third of six children, Oswald Gyabaah ’20 learned quickly the value of both having older siblings and being an example to his younger siblings. So when he learned about the Ashesi Mentoring Program, he was excited about having someone show him the ropes of building a career.

“The mentorship program has been particularly helpful,” he shared. “Like many other students, I entered college without knowing exactly what to do, and this can be pretty difficult figuring out with no one to guide you.”

The pilot program, whose goal was to help students build professional experience through a year-long mentorship, paired participating students like Oswald with industry professionals.

“We want to expose students to the reality in the corporate environment,” shared Akua Ampah, Career Services Coordinator at Ashesi. “As a career-focused department, we do our best to help students get a sense of what to expect in the working world, however, when they have someone in the industry, telling and showing you how it works, the students tend to pay more attention. In some cases, students may even discover that career paths they thought were of interest to them are not what they would like to pursue in the long-term.”

As a third-year Computer Engineering student at Ashesi, Oswald shared how his background influenced his interest in software engineering

“Coming from rural Ghana in the Brong Ahafo region, I see a lot of differences between the lifestyle and outlook of the young people in my community as compared to those in the cities,” he said. “Not only do most people in those areas lack the resources to go to college, but a big contributing factor is the lack of access to information. For example, not being able to afford the cost of education shouldn’t be a deterrent to going to school. However, it’s different for these kids because many are the first in their families to even go to high school, and completely unaware of alternative funding opportunities or how to compete for them.”

“I took part in the mentorship program because one of my biggest aspirations is to help centralize communication systems in the Ghanaian educational sector, to help more youth in rural areas get access to information. So I wanted to learn more about how big corporations handle software, especially in communications.”

“Meeting Barbara was more like a miracle,” said Oswald. “Although I wasn’t sure how being mentored by her was going to pan out since her expertise was not in tech but rather Human Resources. However, it was wonderful. She helped me to access different opportunities including my first internship at Vodafone Ghana and encouraged me to engage more in public speaking and leadership activities. This has helped me a lot.”

For Barbara, who works with Barclays Bank Ghana as the People Function Lead for Business Banking and Separation, she had been looking for an opportunity to act as a mentor for someone. Early on in her career, she had benefited significantly from mentors who guided her on her journey and wanted to pay it forward.

“By signing up for the Ashesi Mentoring Program, I felt I could also give back and help others find their feet,” Barbara shared. “So right from the onset, I purposed in my heart to support whoever was assigned to me, to achieve all their goals. To get this done, I drew a plan to help me track how I mentored. Doing that helped Oswald and I achieve what we set out to do, and even more. I have really enjoyed the mentorship experience, and though the program has ended, he knows he can reach out to me or anyone within the network of friends he has gained.”

Following the internship, Oswald has his hands in a number of projects. He is currently helping the university’s Career Services Office automate a system that pairs students with mentors. He also started a club on campus, The Nightingale Foundation, and recruits other Ashesi students to help mentor basic school kids in Amasaman, a city in the Greater Accra region of Ghana. In 2018, he was also selected as a Melton Fellow, a position he hopes to use to help schools in his community in the Brong Ahafo region to access more resources.

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