Picture of Zach Schankerman As I began the semester and the Achieve Ability Mentorship Program at Old National Bank kicked off, I thought I knew what it took to be a great mentor and a great mentee as well.

Previously, I had experience mentoring freshmen students at the University of Indianapolis (UI) through BUILD, a program that assists students who have learning related disabilities. But as I met and worked with my mentor at Old National Bank, Corporate Relationship Manager Brian Henning, it became apparent to me that I had been missing something as a mentor. Brian and I found traits and interests in common. Our relationship grew and deepened. We became friends. That’s the element of mentorship I had previously lacked. Friendship is the very root of mentoring and building relationships.

My mentor Brian has facilitated meetings for me with many financial professionals and shared some career insights he learned along the way. Beyond what we have in common professionally, we talk about sports and finance. We talk about the Indianapolis Colts and the Indiana Hoosiers football and basketball. And, for a guy like me, it does not get much better than that!

Realizing the value of friendship has changed my experience both as a mentor and mentee. I can now see myself not only as a mentor or mentee but as a friend as well. Unquestionably, this has helped me find new respect for and create stronger connections with my friends. Friendship has allowed me to become an advisor for my friends, and I value their trust as they continue their paths to success. I have taken what I have learned from Brian about friendship and applied it to mentoring freshmen students through the UI BUILD program. For example, a close friend of mine started his freshman year undecided about his major. By building our relationship and getting to know him better, I learned about his passion about his enthusiasm for sports and working with children and helped him focus his choice of major on Sports Management and Early Education. Discovering the value of friendship has allowed me to give back to the program that has done so much for me and pay it forward by developing relationships and learning from others’ experiences.

I have fostered meaningful relationships and have made great friends in the process. If it were not for people like Betsy Fouts, the Director of the BUILD Program at University of Indianapolis, my mentor Brian and the Achieve Ability program, I am certain I would not be the person I am today.

Zach is a contributing writer for Old National, where he is also involved in the Achieve Ability program.