Lukas Michaels ’18 CLAS and Joe Piskai ’07 VSB

Lukas and Joe

1. What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?   

“When I was enrolled in the Summer Business Institute this past summer, I did not expect to find myself enrolling in an additional program. I was introduced to the Mentor Program when I saw an email that explained how the program was expanding, and that this would be the first year it would be integrated into the disciplines outside of VSB. This excited me and sparked my curiosity. I have never thought a comprehensive Mentor Program would be of any value to someone outside the world of business and the exclusive world of “networking.” However, when I joined, I realized that a mentor program that aligns your skills and values with a professional in your field of interest can be of vital importance. My mentor, Joe, has helped outline my professional development and has set a remarkable example as a tech-aficionado and emerging family-man. I am extremely appreciative, and can only hope our relationship strengthens as I approach my senior year.”

– Lukas

“I’m very fortunate to have had several individuals who provided guidance, support and some much-needed tough love when it came to my development. Considering all of that positive influence from coaches, teachers and mentors, it becomes clear that your time is one of the most impactful gifts you can give to someone who asks for it. So as a thank you to those who have helped me, along with a desire to help a motivated young adult succeed, I didn’t think twice about answering that call.”

– Joe

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“At first, I did not expect much from a program that was once geared towards business students. I had the misconception that a mentorship would only be of help when trying to find a job in finance or accounting. Yet, I was proven wrong. I immediately realized after our first conversation that Joe and I could benefit from each other. We spoke extensively about our goals and past experiences and saw a connection. Obviously the Mentor Program at Villanova was designed well, because our passions aligned perfectly and we found many ways we could help each other reach our goals; Joe would find ways to help leverage his network and I would help him stay in touch with his alma mater. Most importantly though, Joe and I realized that passions and goals live outside the sphere of college and difference of age. We quickly found that could help each other immensely with professional, and personal, development.”

– Lukas

“Let me first say that I always have high expectations for Villanova students and this program was no exception. As I came to know Lukas, I found him to be uniquely mature with a genuine curiosity, positive attitude and work ethic to back up his already impressive credentials on paper. Lukas continues to impress me each time we meet; he is a great ambassador of the Villanova community and makes me proud to be an alumnus. I can’t wait to see what the future holds as we continue to work together.”

– Joe

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?    

“The relationship Joe and I share is a successful one because it transcends more than just a mentorship. At first, it may have seemed to be a relationship that only stayed afloat because of what we had to offer, but that misunderstanding was tossed aside after the first few phone calls with Joe. Because the program matched our values in addition to our professional goals, we were able to share personal interests which has strengthened our relationship. Within the first phone call, I learned that Joe enjoys fishing trips, great food and good health; all things I enjoy and hope to continue cultivating as I mature into adulthood. Having these similarities has really proven that a mentorship can develop into a friendship when both parties put in the effort.”

– Lukas

“While every mentoring experience is unique (as it should be!), I have been most impressed with Lukas’ persistence and accountability toward making the relationship work. Lukas is dependable and makes good on his promises, such as keeping appointments and delivering on our follow-up actions. He makes every effort to maintain positive momentum in the relationship. Mentees take note! This kind of initiative may be the most important success factor in the early stage of mentor relationships…if you can start with that, the other important pieces (e.g. relatability, common interests, shared goals) are more likely to fall into place.”

– Joe

4. What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?    

“The best part of having a mentor is seeing where I’d like to be in a few years’ time. It is rare for someone my age to look up to someone in a field of interest and be introduced to parts of their personal life and schedule. Joe has been kind enough to show me around his workplace and to introduce me to his wife, Cara. On top of these introductions, Joe has also introduced me to the lifestyle and work ethic of an expert in the field I’d love to work in one day. Joe has put in so much effort to help me grow into adulthood and has taught me the importance of giving back through mentorship and driven passion.”

– Lukas

“It is absolutely true that a great relationship provides learning opportunities for both the mentor and mentee. But at the end of the day, after all the phone calls, teaching moments and preparation, the single most rewarding part of having a mentoring relationship is seeing someone succeed and sharing in that success. It’s as simple as that.”

– Joe

5. Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“I encourage mentees to show ardent enthusiasm and to relax! Mentors are here because they want to be. Speaking to your mentor should be a fun and rewarding experience, there aren’t many times where you have the opportunity to speak to someone outside your family who is equally as excited as you are about your development into adulthood. I also encourage mentors to remind their mentees the reason why you joined the Mentor Program in the first place. Joe has taught me that giving back means paying-it-forward, and I know one day when I am mentoring my mentee I’ll be sure to let him know.”

– Lukas

“To mentors: I think the ultimate goal in helping your mentee “find” his/herself is to remember that your career story is just the starting point and your perspective just one of many. Tell your story but don’t only describe the outcome, rather, provide introspective on the tough decisions, the mistakes and the bounce-backs. Don’t forget that from your mentee’s perspective, understanding the “whys” are probably more valuable than just knowing the “whats.”

To mentees: Along those same lines, challenge your mentor with insightful questions. You can learn about someone’s career path in an informational interview, but only a mentor can provide the deeper, more intimate wisdom underlying all that personal experience. How did he come to make certain decisions? What tradeoffs did she consider when making career choices? What would your mentor have done differently? You’ll make mistakes, but even if you make just one less mistake thanks to the guidance of a mentor, to me, that’s a success.”

– Joe