How the New College mentorship program gave this recent grad direction

October 13, 2022 by Rebecca Cheung - A&S News

One of the most challenging aspects of Anna Ivanova’s undergraduate experience was figuring out what to do after graduation.

Ivanova, who recently graduated with an honours bachelor of arts in international relations  and economics with a minor in Spanish as a member of New College, recalls the overwhelming number of options open to her.

“There were many paths to consider: I could pursue a master’s and eventually a PhD, apply to business school or enter the job market. Even then, there are so many different industries and roles I could explore,” explains Ivanova.

She needed guidance — and she found it through New College’s Career Mentorship Program. Thanks to her very engaged and supportive mentor, she has landed an exciting role at a financial services group and found clarity on where she might want to take her career.

An international student from Russia, Ivanova was just starting to build her personal and professional network in Canada during her initial years at U of T. She was eager to learn more about navigating the Canadian job market, building connections and launching a career.

Toward the end of her second year, she was accepted into the mentorship program at New College, which matches upper-year students with experienced alumni. Students get one-on-one time with professionals in business, law, medicine and other industries, based in Toronto and abroad.

It was an extraordinary opportunity — and somewhat intimidating. Ivanova matched with Rajeev Chib, CAO for Citi’s Asia division and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council. She was relieved to learn Chib, who recently received the Rotman Volunteer Excellence Award, was just as excited about working with her.

“Normally, I’d be nervous meeting someone who holds such a senior position, but Rajeev went out of his way to be approachable and accommodating,” she says.

Despite the 12-hour time difference — Chib is based in Hong Kong — the two consistently connected through virtual calls during the early evening hours in Toronto.

 Rajeev Chib in suit and red tie standing outside in front of greenery
Mentor Rajeev Chib, CAO for Citi’s Asia division and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, continues to be a role model and source of support for Ivanova. Photo courtesy of Rajeev Chib.

No question was too big or too small.

“I had a lot of questions, and Rajeev answered all of them: how to structure a resume, apply for jobs, network,” she explains.

Chib grew from the experience, as well.

“Mentoring is a two-way street; I learned as much from Anna as she hopefully took away from our meetings,” says Chib, who earned his honours bachelor of science degree in quantitative economics from the Faculty of Arts & Science and his master of business administration from the Rotman School of Management.

“Her great attitude and outlook for her future both in her career and personal life are infectious and I see Anna as an excellent role model for the next generation.”

They didn’t speak strictly about careers and professional development. Chib, who recently earned his doctorate in business administration, asked about her classes and how she was settling in at U of T. When the war broke out in Ukraine, Ivanova was naturally worried about loved ones back home, and Chib was among many who offered support and sent her reassuring messages.

The two continued to touch base after their time in the program ended.

“In my fourth year, I started to get serious about what I wanted to do next,” she says. “It was reassuring to know someone was as invested as I was in my future.”

In fact, it was Chib who alerted her to employment opportunities at Prime Quadrant, a Toronto-based financial services group. Throughout the application process, which involved a technical exam and a series of interviews, her former mentor was there to offer advice and encouragement each step of the way.

Ultimately, Ivanova was elated when she received an offer to join Prime as an operations associate after graduation.

Today, after only a few months in the role, she’s learned a lot around fund management and she’s enjoying her work organizing and recording data.

Chib isn’t surprised to hear his former mentee is thriving.

“I've seen Anna's confidence grow with each meeting and her characteristics of being grateful, curious and ambitious opened her mind to a number of options. I truly believe these were some of the ingredients that allowed her to successfully secure a great role in financial services.”

Ivanova, who met Chib in person for the first time this summer when he came to Toronto for a visit, is thankful for all the things her mentor has taught her.

“Rajeev played a big role in guiding me through the university experience. I learned many things from him, but most importantly he’s become an important figure in my life: he’s my role model and a great source of support.”