In April, Minneapolis-based Medtronic announced its first-ever formal mentoring program for college students with disabilities. The launch of the ABLED mentoring program (Awareness Benefiting Leadership and Employees about Disabilities) follows a very successful pilot program last year. ABLED is actively involved in the workplace inclusion goals at the company, and is sponsored by the Office of Workplace Inclusion, which sets the group’s charter and provides support and guidance. Two of the focus areas for ABLED are recruitment and retention; and the mentoring program presents an opportunity to work on both goals.
Fifteen college students are currently participating in the program, which kicked-off in April with a keynote address by Dr. Roy Grizzard, Assistant Secretary to the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor. Dr. Grizzard spoke with both the Medtronic mentors and student mentees about the positive impact mentoring can have on a person’s life, explaining that skills learned will last a lifetime. Dr. Grizzard also emphasized that mentoring is a two-way learning opportunity, benefiting both the mentor and the mentee.
Mentoring pairs have agreed to meet once a month and will also have opportunity to participate in additional Med-tronic events. The most recent such event was a trip to the Bakken Museum, which included the chance to meet Earl Bakken, co-founder of Med-tronic. “As if being mentored by a Director in Human Resources wasn’t enough, the trip to the Bakken Museum proved absolutely moving,” said Craig Harris, a graduate student in the Human Resources Development program at the U of M. “The Aloha spirit is alive and well in Minneapolis when Earl Bakken pays a visit! [Bakken lives in Hawaii.] Earl honored our group with his visit and we hung off every word as he told stories of moments from his youth leading to his founding of Medtronic and inventions in pacing.”
Harris also stressed the value of the ABLED mentor-ing program. “I expected top-notch advice and information from the program,” said Harris, “but meeting Earl Bakken and touring the Bakken Museum far exceeded all of my expectations. You could literally hear a pin drop between Earl’s words because no one wanted to miss any of his potentially life-changing ideas.” Bakken shared his career path as an example of what is possible and challenged the students to identify their own career path. “This mild-mannered, humble man shared his experience, encouraged us and advised us on the tools we need to succeed,” said Harris.
The Medtronic ABLED men-toring program runs through April 2007. Medtronic is the world’s leading medical device technology company, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.