Robby Grant ’19
SPU Mentor Program gives student career insight
By Kate Barker, program coordinator
“As I was approaching leaving SPU, I had no idea of what I wanted to do,” said Robby Grant ‘19. “I wanted to talk to someone who had made it. Is what I’m experiencing normal?”
To get answers to her questions, Grant, then a junior communication major with a minor in business administration, went to the SPU Mentor Program. Run through SPU’s Center for Applied Learning, and now in its 23rd year, the Mentor Program connects students with professionals for job shadowing, mentoring, and more.
From rural Othello, Wash., Grant wanted to use her major to explore the hospitality industry in the city. On her first job shadow, she experienced a boutique hotel in downtown Seattle. There, she asked questions about typical work schedules, and she witnessed the day-to-day interactions between her host, a hotel manager, as well as hotel guests and staff. During her time there, her mentor explained the realities of this career’s irregular schedule and the formality that the work called for.
Grant laughed as she recalled the experience: It was not what she thought it would be — and, thankfully, the Mentor Program let her quickly learn this industry wasn’t for her. She now knew she needed more creativity to thrive. Ironically, her job-shadow host called the next day to offer her a job. Grant politely declined.
Having done that job shadow as a junior, Grant had time to apply to the Mentor Program again during her senior year. This time, she chose to do a mentorship in the tech industry, with a focus on public relations roles. She was matched with a senior public relations manager at XBox.
The fit was perfect. Grant combined her love of video games, creativity, marketing, hospitality, and interaction with people of all kinds.
Additionally, her second mentor provided a realistic expectation for what might happen after graduation, but also how the mentor had achieved his own career goals. “My mentor was a really great person, really genuine, and doing great things,” she said.
Grant’s mentor had things to say about her, too, writing Grant “was professional, courteous, inquisitive, and positive. It was a pleasure to meet with her and I am eager to see how her career develops in the future!”
Looking back, the young alum says, “I am really happy I did it. I didn’t have much experience in the real world, but it really helped me get ready and know more realistically what to expect. It helped me prepare for navigating my way after leaving SPU.”
Now working in human resources for a large international security firm in Seattle, Grant said her mentor helped her understand a career path isn’t always in a straight line. “Keeping all of this in mind has allowed me a lot of grace to be patient with myself,” she said. “I have a lot of goals in mind, but I know if I continue to work hard and absorb all of the new skills I'm learning, I’ll eventually get to a place where I am satisfied.”