Everyone should get a mentor. It makes the world smaller, it gives you connections to the industry and it helps you find your direction.”
Real estate major Mary Hendrickson is no stranger to working with mentors. She was assigned to a commercial banker mentor in her real estate career management course for a short-term classroom project. Seeking even more advice about careers outside of the classroom, she jumped at the opportunity offered by Professor Stephen Bell, associate director of The Real Estate Center, to be paired with a second mentor.
“I was hoping to get more knowledge about the industry since I was just starting my first internship,” says Hendrickson. Since she was interning in the capital markets group at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a global commercial real estate services firm, Hendrickson was paired with Greg Warsek, group senior vice president at Associated Bank, who manages a commercial real estate loan portfolio.
“Greg helped me figure out the grand scheme of what I was doing in my internship. He also helped explain his role in the banking industry, which made my job easier,” Hendrickson says.
Warsek serves on three university advisory boards, including DePaul’s Real Estate Center board. In the last 30 years, he estimates, he has mentored between 50 and 75 students, focusing on young professionals who are trying to make the right decisions as they go back to school or make job moves.
“When I first started looking for a job, I was helped by a friend of a friend who didn’t need to help me, but did it anyway,” says Warsek. “Now I am at the point in my career where I can make phone calls and introductions and get students’ résumés moved to the top of the pile.
“Being a mentor gives me a really important perspective (about working) with young people because I have three different generations of employees to manage,” says Warsek. “I learn a lot from them. They teach me how they view the world and what is important to them, and it makes me a better leader for Associated Bank.”
Hendrickson is now in her second year working at JLL and continues to meet with Warsek regularly by phone or in person to talk about business school, future plans and industry topics. Networking is a huge part of their relationship. While selling raffle tickets at a gala to raise money for stomach cancer research, Hendrickson ran into Warsek, and he immediately introduced her to his friends, colleagues and other contacts
Making contacts can be intimidating, but Hendrickson says that she feels comfortable asking Warsek for help. “Everyone should get a mentor,” says Hendrickson. “You have no reason not to. It makes the world smaller, it gives you connections to the industry and it helps you find your direction.”
By Andrew Zamorski | Photo by Kathy Hillegonds