November's Mentor of the Month: Sushil Cheema CC'04, JRN'06

Left: Sushil Cheema CC'04, JRN '06 on campus during orientation. Right: Current photo of Cheema. 

Congratulations to Sushil Cheema CC'04, JRN'06, as November 2020 Mentor of the Month. Cheema received her BA in anthropology and MS in journalism from Columbia. She is now the Lead Editor at The Penny Hoarder. She has participated in the Odyssey Mentoring Program and has mentored six students on the platform.

Interview with Sushil Cheema CC'04, JRN'06

Have you connected with students during the COVID-19 pandemic? What has the experience been like? 

Yes. I’m based in Florida, so meeting in person would likely not have happened, even under normal circumstances. I’ve been emphasizing the importance of networking, especially during unusual times, and have told students how making themselves visible and taking chances to reach out to others is really important. Attending virtual events can even be easier than those in person because location is not a factor (though time zone could be).

What have you gained from being a mentor?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed speaking to students interested in journalism and connecting them with other people I think they would benefit from hearing from. I enjoy sharing my network and directing them to resources and organizations. I like helping students see the bigger picture and helping them navigate their careers and understand how their jobs are just one factor in creating a fulfilling life.

What advice you would give a student looking for a mentor?

Research the person’s background to develop good questions. You can get a lot out of one conversation with someone, but if you can, try to develop a long-term relationship. Ask for resources, such as organizations you should join, and don’t hesitate to ask if they can connect you with others in their industry. 

Did you have mentors during your time at the College? If so, could you share a bit about them?

Yes. Professors Elaine Combs-Schilling and Jill Shapiro of the anthropology department were my mentors. They were both willing to spend time talking about potential career paths and always reminded me to find beauty in the mundane and in the most difficult times.

Any additional thoughts about Odyssey?

This program is great for connecting students with alumni and potential career opportunities, not just advice. Every student should take advantage of it.

About the Odyssey Mentoring Program

The Odyssey Mentoring Program (OMP) was founded on the belief that Columbia College students and alumni want to support one another, share stories and encourage one another’s success, thus creating a strong and tight-knit community. The College has more than 50,000 alumni working in myriad careers and around the country. OMP makes it possible for community members to connect in a variety of ways, from an email exchange to in-person meetings and small group gatherings.