NYU alumnus Gabriel Avgerinos (TANDON ’73, STERN ’77) is something of a mentoring enthusiast. Avgerinos, who holds a BS in chemical engineering from NYU Tandon School of Engineering and an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business, as well as a MS from MIT, has been mentoring NYU students through the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development and NYU Stern for more than a decade; he’s also guided students at NYU Tandon, where he teaches a graduate course and at other universities where he teaches.

Even Avgerinos’ company, Energy Mentors International, is inspired by such a relationship. (Energy Mentors is a consulting firm that helps its corporate, academic, and governmental clients transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources; collaborates with the UN, NGOs, and think tanks on sustainable development goals; and runs workshops for clean-energy startups.) So when NYU’s Office of Alumni Relations and NYU Wasserman launched Violet Network, an online networking and mentorship platform in 2020, Avgerinos was one of the first to sign up.

Below, Avgerinos and some of his Violet Network mentees discuss their experience with the platform, which is the official online community driving powerful professional connections within our global network.

How long have you been a member of Violet Network and how have you used the platform? What examples can you share to show the value you have found from your Violet Network mentoring experience.
AT (TANDON ’22): I joined the Violet Network three months ago. I have used it to join the NYU Latinx Alumni group, browse discussion boards, and to look through the community for alumni that work in the fields I am interested in.

MC (TANDON ’21): I have found my discussions and interactions with NYU alumni and mentors to be extremely helpful, both in my pursuit of graduate education as well as navigating starting a career. I am grateful for the time and dedication my current mentor [Gabriel Avgerinos] has afforded me, from going over my resume to scheduling one-on-one chats to discuss and develop specific personalized strategies. As a graduating NYU student, hearing and learning from NYU alumni mentors is extremely beneficial and something I look forward to as I transition to being an alumnus.

AW (TANDON ’20): Being able to continuously connect with my mentor online through Zoom, email, and phone has helped me greatly throughout my job search during the pandemic. Despite not having the opportunity to meet in person, I was able to gain valuable information from my mentor and share content virtually through the tools provided by NYU.

How would you sum up your experience with Violet Network in 10 words or fewer?
Avgerinos: Mentor students on courses, projects, graduate school, internships, full-time jobs

MC (TANDON ’21): Network and interact with like-minded students and alumni

MO (STERN ’23): Thoroughly useful resource for learning and networking

AP (TANDON ’21): Exclusive network, accurate match, user friendly interface.

What have you found most valuable about using Violet Network?
Avgerinos: Violet Network expands my potential reach to mentor students in all colleges of NYU, not just my own two alma maters. Since 2010 I have mentored about 100 students, most of them from NYU Tandon and NYU Stern, but also from the College of Arts and Science, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, School of Professional Studies, College of Medicine, Global Public Health, Liberal Studies, and Steinhardt. The Violet Network platform is accessible to all NYU students and alumni, but I am still contacted by NYU students who are not aware of Violet Network until I mention it and recommend it to them for entering their profile and registering to gain valuable contact with NYU alumni in their fields and careers of interest.

MC (TANDON ’21): The Violet Network enables me to meet alumni and other students who are in comparable positions as I am or who hold positions I aspire to, allowing me to more easily interact through our shared NYU connection. Additionally, I find it very valuable that the Violet Network allows me to expand my network to individuals from various NYU schools and is not limited to [just my school].

GF (NYUAD ’24): The possibility of reaching out to people from other countries and generations but with common interests. It is quite easy to reach out to [peers] using Facebook, but Violet Network expands this on a wider scale.

MO (STERN ’23):
The ability to sort NYU students and alumni by company for targeted networking or learning about a firm.

AP (TANDON ’21): It automatically finds potential matches according to our profile settings and preferences.

RS (TANDON ’19): I have had an excellent experience with one-on-one mentoring on Violet Network, which is not a feature offered by many other networking websites.

AT (TANDON ’22): The Violet Network makes it very easy to connect with alumni that are currently working in your field of interest in order to ask questions. One of the best things about the platform is being able to browse through the vast NYU alumni network and connect with as many mentors as you need to receive a variety of advice.

PV (TANDON ’22): I am still a new user, so I have more to learn, but so far, I am excited by the potential to connect with a large number of mentors that share an NYU background with me. I think having a shared background will make networking and building relationships easier, so I find that particularly valuable.

AW (TANDON ’20): Mentorship in general has been very beneficial to my career search from beginning to end. As someone who is new to working in the US, I needed guidance on how to start looking for jobs and techniques on landing interviews. Throughout the job search process during the pandemic, it was encouraging to have a mentor to speak with periodically and report the search progress to stay in a good rhythm. After securing different offers, I was able to seek advice on negotiation tips and logically accept the one that is most beneficial to my career path.

How does your experience with Violet Network compare with other networking and/or mentoring opportunities you've participated in?
Avgerinos: I am enjoying the connections I make with students and recent alumni through Violet Network because of the diverse backgrounds and interests of the individuals who reach out and connect with me from various NYU colleges. This experience is quite different from other networks in which I also participate at NYU and other universities, where the participants are more alike in their college majors, work backgrounds, and career goals.

With Violet Network mentees I usually start our communications by exchange of CVs and Linkedin profiles, followed by email dialogue on the platform. Then after a few weeks, if there is a good fit and mutual interest to continue our communication, we transfer to individual Zoom meetings or conference calls on a regular monthly schedule with specific goals that we mutually agree to reach. The goals are usually related to specific projects review, CV improvement, discussion of job experiences and career goals, resources and references available, online searches and negotiation assistance for finding and securing externships, internships for research with NYU professors, and full-time jobs upon graduation or entry into graduate school for advanced studies.

GF (NYUAD ’24): I think that people on Violet Network with interest in the mentor-mentee relationship are genuinely interested. I think that if someone answers you back, they are truly interested in this type or relationship. For me, this environment is very valuable.

AT (TANDON ’22): In the past, mentors have been assigned to me without considering fit or interest. The Violet Network allows me to reach out to potential mentors based on a shared interest and ultimately results in a better match and a better mentor-mentee relationship.

LY (TANDON ’21): Mentors on Violet Network share the same educational background with me and are more willing to communicate with me. We can also post specific questions or go through other students’ questions, from which I do learn a lot. These answers are more professional and reliable.

What words of advice or wisdom do you have for other students or alumni who are thinking about joining the platform?
Avgerinos: Mentoring assistance to students on preparing, searching, negotiating, and securing full-time jobs and internships during the COVID-19 pandemic months in 2020 has been especially gratifying for both students and mentors. In view of the slower economic recovery due to COVID-19 since early 2020 and the likely slow continuation during the first half of 2021, it is important that NYU alumni help current students and graduates as much as possible.

GF (NYUAD ’24): If you don’t try you will never succeed. It’s worth reaching out to people even if they don’t answer back. Every single email or message you send will be precious at some point when networking experience will be needed.

MO (STERN ’23): Violet Network enables rapid learning about jobs, firms, and industries from the people occupying those positions. I’ve found that learning from alumni across many disciplines through Violet Network has been essential in determining my future career and ways to enter that career.

AW (TANDON ’20): Taking advantage of the mentorship platform and actively maintaining relationships with your mentors is a paramount part of the job search process.