Speed Mentoring: Every Minute Counts

By Rachael Vruggink

We’re fortunate to have tons of advertising and marketing professionals so close by, and even more fortunate that they’re willing to share their time and knowledge with us.

Our most recent event—Speed Mentor Dating—was a culmination of just that. With the help of the AdFed, over a dozen professionals from agencies, firms, and in-house teams came to Grand Rapids Brewing Company and networked with members of the club: speed-date style. The goal? Give every student five minutes with each professional to talk about any and everything.

Pros sat on one side of the table, students sat on the other. Alex Rabideau was the official timekeeper and resident loudspeaker, shouting the end of the five minutes with a, “Okay, that’s five! Switch, switch, switch!”

Following the call of “time” was a centipede-like shuffle. Everyone rose, butts shuffling to the seat directly to the left, with some students making the move with their backend while trying to squeeze in the last “thank you for your time” and handshake to the professional they had just spoken to.

Don’t be fooled. Five minutes may sound short, but it is adequate time. (Next time you’re in class talking about a subject that bores you to tears, take a look at the clock when there’s only five minutes left, and you tell us that’s not an eternity.)

Many talked shop. Asking questions about what each agency/firm/team did, getting the skinny on specialties, clients, and experience levels. Others focused more on what students could bring to the table, with professionals asking some of the not-so-easy-to-answer questions about what made each student unique or questioned what they wanted to do when they graduated.

It was an amazing sight to see. A room of over 20 students, talking with marketing directors, agency owners, and teams about what they were passionate about. The energy in the room was tangible. Everyone was genuinely just having fun.


By the time the appetizers were delivered (another shout-out to the AdFed for those, the wings were supreme and that guacamole was a whole new level of avocado goodness), the last rounds of students made their introductions. Most of those who I had a chance to talk to said the same thing:

  • “I’m really glad I came.”
  • “I was so scared to do this, but it was so fun!”
  • “Talking to (Insert Amazing Pro’s Name Here) was awesome. He/She was really cool and we’re going to schedule a time to talk again soon.”

In a nutshell, those feelings were the club’s ultimate goal: Offer an event informal enough to elicit laughs but formal enough to lead to business card exchanges and a chat over coffee.  Mission accomplished.

But we should note that we didn’t just bug the students about how they felt the night went, we also asked the pros. No surprise, their responses were along the same lines.

  • “This was really fun. It’s always great getting the chance to come out and talk to you guys (students).”
  • “Seeing where different students are coming from, what they’re interested in and their stories, it’s really cool.”
  • “I would absolutely do this again.”

To all of our professionals, thank you again for your time and willingness to spend a couple hours with our club and its members. We’ll be seeing some of you again at our Creative Crawl on March 30th. To the rest, we’ll catch you again in the fall of 2017.

A HUGE thank you for Meg Smolen for all of her help organizing the event, reserving GRBC, and connecting us with the pros!

To Our Pros, Thank You:

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