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Alumni Mentorship a Key Part of MPD2 Experience

Three graduates from Northwestern Engineering's Master of Product Design and Development Management (MPD2) program explain why it's important for them to help current and future students.

Northwestern Engineering's Master of Product Design and Development Management (MPD2) program is structured so students learn to become senior leaders who can create and advance ground-breaking new products. It's a program focused on innovation and strengthened by the diverse backgrounds of its students and faculty. 

Also paramount to the success of the program is the alumni network. The program has had approximately 600 graduates, many of who are now in roles where they manage creativity, execute design, and lead product development. Thanks to a new alumni mentorship program, those program veterans now have a formal opportunity to give back to current and future MPD2 students. 

Students are split into teams at the beginning of their time in MPD2, and each team is assigned a mentor. That mentor stays with that team of students throughout their time in the program, making themselves available to offer guidance and be a sounding board for projects and potential opportunities. 

"These are courageous students who enter the program and are looking to change the trajectory of their career," MPD2 director Jim Wicks said. "Having a mentor to connect with on a regular basis is a huge value to the students and gives them good peace of mind."

Three of those mentors recently shared their perspective on the mentorship program and why they wanted to be involved.

Why was it important for you to participate in this mentorship program? 

Owen Bassett (MPD2 '11), engineering manager at Andrews Products: "It's been more than 10 years since I graduated from MPD2. The program can be difficult, and the addition of alumni mentors is a great idea. There were many times where my team would have benefited from having someone to bounce ideas off of, get a better view of the program, or just get help through some of the difficult times we had. I feel that being able to give back to the MPD2 program helps me as much as it helps the groups going through the program." 

Amber Hall (MPD2 '20), ​​senior product manager for bathroom faucets and accessories in North America for Kohler: "It’s a core value of mine to give back to the communities and organizations that have helped me grow. Being on the other side, I continue to see the invaluable lessons the program taught me, and I want to be a part of that impact for other students." 

Bridget McMullan (MPD2 '17), director of product strategy at Anthem: "MPD2 helped me grow professionally and personally through job opportunities, growing my network, and life-long friends. I’ve always felt grateful for the MPD2 program, and I think it's important to give back."

What do you hope MPD students get out of the experience? 

OB: "I hope the teams I'm mentoring see that the time in MPD2 isn't finite. It's a chance to build lasting professional connections that can be beneficial long after graduation. I tell the teams I am mentoring I’m there for anything they might need and to reach out if there are any questions. I want them to know there is someone who went through the same things that they are now, and that this person is also in their corner to make sure that they come out mastering the material and concepts presented in the MPD2 program."

AH: "A network of trusted people with a shared rallying cry that they can leverage throughout their career, as well as their own sense of purpose to give back in their own respective ways as they become alumni." 

BM: "It’s different depending on the individual– whether they want to build their network, pivot careers, or get advice specific to the program. My hope is to cater to each individual’s needs."
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