Brandeis International Business School

Making a difference through mentorship

An alumni mentor helped Tianmin Zhang, MSF’20, kickstart his career

Tianmin Zhang, MSF'20, got more out of his relationship with his mentor, James Orsillo, MBA'06, than he anticipated.

Tianmin Zhang, MSF'20, got more out of his relationship with his mentor, James Orsillo, MBA'06, than he anticipated.

Tianmin Zhang’s investment paid dividends.

When he first signed up for the Alumni-Student Mentoring Program at Brandeis International Business School, Zhang, MSF’20, didn’t know what to expect.

“When it comes to networking a lot of people just tell you to try harder,” said Zhang. “But I hit it off right away with my mentor, James. My expectations were blown away.”

Career coaches at the Career Strategies and Engagement Center paired Zhang with James Orsillo, MBA’06, a Boston-based venture capital executive. Right away, Orsillo offered up his unvarnished advice on how to start out in the finance industry. Intrigued and encouraged, Zhang kept calling him.

“It’s important to keep the conversation going,” said Zhang. “A lot of people are passive. But you have to keep talking and put in the effort.”

Orsillo’s mentorship proved particularly valuable in the summer of 2019, when Zhang landed an internship at venture capital firm Northern Rock.

“James helped me build the skills and confidence to convince them I was right for the job,” said Zhang.

After a successful internship, Zhang was hired for a full-time position with the Providence-based insurance company Amica upon graduating with a Master of Science in Finance (MSF) degree.

“Tianmin took the mentorship to another level with his preparation,” said Orsillo. “He was an absolute joy to work with and he truly appreciated everything.”

Orsillo has mentored about a half dozen students in the last five years. He enjoys giving back to his alma mater and loves meeting talented, driven students like Zhang.

“The business school does a really good job of providing a solid foundation for students,” said Orsillo.

This year, more than 80 students at the International Business School have been paired up with alumni mentors. Mentors serve as professional role models, using their experiences to help students navigate their job search and hone their skills.

When he arrived at Brandeis, Jose Guadiana Chong, MBA’12, enjoyed the support and guidance of his sister, Elisa, MBA’11. After graduating, he’s since made a point to pay it forward by mentoring more than a dozen students.

“My sister helped me navigate campus, figure out which classes to take and what would be most important for me to learn,” said Guadiana Chong. “When I look back, I think every student can benefit from having that kind of accessibility and help.”

Mentoring is a two-way street for Guadiana Chong, who said there’s always something to learn from current students.

“Everyone has different backgrounds and perspectives and interests,” he said. “They keep me on my toes. It’s pretty cool.”

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