Mentoring program helps first generation college-bound students thrive

Michael McLaughlin, US Country Head and Macquarie Group Foundation Board member, (in the centre at the front) with LEADS high school interns.

12 Sep 2017

Since 2007, 100 first generation college-bound students have completed an internship with Macquarie which helps them prepare for college and career achievement. The leadership, education, advancement, development and support program (known as LEADS) brings together high school students with Macquarie staff members who act as mentors and facilitate professional development workshops. 

“When it comes to success, a professional mentor is often the missing piece of the puzzle. Professional mentors are a motivator for students. Through LEADS, our staff mentor and workshop facilitators raise students’ aspirations, build confidence and skills, and introduce them to a corporate environment,” says Michael McLaughlin, Country Head for Macquarie in the United States. 

Over 85% of Macquarie LEADS alumni have matriculated or graduated from college. Norphel Sherpa, a Macquarie LEADS alumnus is one of these: “I really enjoyed the program because I was able to step outside of my comfort zone,” he says. “I was able to meet all these incredible people and build my network. The program taught me never be afraid to ask questions and to keep that learning mindset.”

Other LEADS students have reported an increase in confidence with core business skills, including Shuvojit Karmakar, who graduated from the most recent LEADS cohort. “I really enjoyed the program because it was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the business world and how it functions. I developed many transferable skills such as presenting, budgeting, phone and e-mail communication, multi-tasking, leadership and networking,” he says.

“I would recommend the LEADS program to rising senior students and encourage them to get involved. It gives you an insight into the business world and helps you decide on a career.” 

Natalie Bloomfield, from Macquarie’s New York office is a member of the Community Advisory Committee and has been involved for the past seven years. “To watch a young student develop and mature throughout their internship is such a rewarding experience,” she says. “The program opens their eyes to the possibilities that are available to them and the support that they receive from their mentors provides them with the tools needed to be successful.” Natalie is currently strategising with the Macquarie Group Foundation on the evolution of the Macquarie LEADS program.

Building upon the program’s success in New York, this year the program has been expanded to Houston. Liz Schaffner is the Macquarie’s Houston office’s LEADS champion. “I brought LEADS to Houston because I was excited about the opportunity to change the trajectory of the youth in the Houston community,” she says. “Not only did the program change their view of corporate life, it changed their view of their world.”

The New York and Houston offices will welcome their newest cohort of high school students in 2018.