As the saying goes, “in learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” That is exactly what Cathey Petkash, FranNet of Charleston, quickly discovered as she continues to build more relationships as a mentor for students at The Citadel Military College of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina.
With an undergraduate student body of about 2,300 students and another 1,000 who attend the graduate college, the Citadel has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the top public college in the South for institutions granting up to a master’s degree. Mentor-student relationships cover a variety of areas. They meet regularly, whether that is face-to-face, by email or even with texts.
“It is thrilling to watch young adults become educated & excited about business ownership as a career,” said Petkash. “Sharing my business experience to assist in their decisions is rewarding; personally being available to listen when times are challenging, both academically and personally, is fulfilling. And – I learn a lot from my mentees.”
For two years, Petkash has been a guest speaker for the entrepreneurial classes at The Citadel. She discusses the different ways to start a business and offers an introductory understanding of the franchise industry. The students learn the business basics in class – business plans, funding, accounting, and marketing. However, Petkash provides the “real life stories” which brings reality into the classroom.
“I feel I am best at mentoring business students or new business owners,” said Petkash. “I am able to provide information, feedback, suggestions and personal encouragement based on my experience in the corporate world, and my experience of owning a business.”
In turn, Petkash has absorbed new ways to listen, to observe without comment, and to comment when appropriate. “It is always good to be reminded of these listening skills & to fine tune them,” said Petkash. The opportunity to personally get to know her mentee’s families and to share in their personal & professional growth has rewarded her with more than she could have predicted.
Apart from mentoring & speaking at the entrepreneurial classes, Petkash also serves as a judge for the “Bulldog Business Bowl,” a Business Plan Competition open to all students at the Citadel. The competition encourages budding entrepreneurs to present their new idea for a product or service that they would like to turn into a business.
To become a mentor or mentee, and to learn more about the program, contact the Citadel’s Mentor Association through The Citadel’s School of Business Administration.