Alex Guggenberger creates Jobiki with help from Augustana’s Student Success Center
The creator and founder of Jobiki, an online search tool for job seekers, Alex Guggenberger may be ahead of the curve as far as college seniors go. But the young entrepreneur admitted he couldn’t have made Jobiki a reality on his own.
Mentorship played a critical role in Guggenberger’s success.
Augustana’s Student Success Center, formerly known as the Career Center, has revamped its programming in the year since its 2016 name change. The Success Center is now geared toward engaging with students through every year of their time at Augustana, not just as seniors.
Mentorship played a large role in that revamp.
Mary Toso, director of internships at the Success Center, spearheaded the mentorship program last spring. It was piloted by 10 Augustana alumni from the Sioux Falls area and 10 juniors interested in the alums’ career fields.
Guggenberger was one of those juniors.
“I think the biggest part about having a mentor for me was having that person on your side,” Guggenberger said. “They have your back, and it’s someone you can learn from who’s in the workforce.”
Students and mentors met once a month from January through May to discuss students’ career goals and to build networking relationships. Evaluations from the pilot program were overwhelmingly positive, allowing Toso to fully launch the mentorship program this past fall.
“As the director of alumni relations, I spent a lot of time with alumni,” Toso said. “In this new role I was eager to help current students, and I believed using those alumni relationships effectively was one of our greatest untapped resources.”
Now 25 juniors are enrolled with a mentor, including junior Courtney Arthur, who said her mentor has helped with her summer internship search.
“My mentor is a practicing lawyer from Watertown, S.D., and he’s really prepared me for what’s going to happen after I graduate,” Arthur said. “It’s been a good opportunity to be exposed to people in the field of law that I want to go into.”
On the other side of the relationship is Thad Titze, associate director of admission. A 2013 graduate, Titze said he agreed to be a mentor to support his alma mater.
As one of the younger mentors in the program, Titze wants his mentees to realize it’s okay not to know exactly what they’re doing right after graduation.
“The post-college years are interesting to navigate,” he said. “It’s a weird time of life that people don’t talk about that much. Having gone through that recently, it’s fun talking with students about trying a few things before they settle into something.”
Toso said she hopes the students involved in the program have benefitted from the connections made and learned that networking doesn’t have to be scary.
“I’m excited about it,” she said. “I hope sophomores are thinking about doing it next fall. The program has promise.”
But it’s students who will turn that promise into a reality.
“We make that opportunity available,” Toso said. “but it’s up to the students to make the relationship what they want. It really is driven by the students.”
Guggenberger took advantage of that mentor relationship from the outset.
“My mentor was involved with Jobiki from the beginning,” he said. “He helped me with the business plan, and he went from being a mentor to being a colleague. Every student needs this type of experience. It’s a really beneficial thing into the future.”