Assistant Professor Ali Besharat may not be a long-distance runner but he sure knows how to go the extra mile.
Besharat, who has taught marketing at Daniels for the past six years, seems to go the distance—and then some—to help his students identify their passions, follow the right career path and determine their life’s purpose (no small feat).
While professors often have a significant impact on student success inside the classroom, Besharat—who is also the co-director of Daniels’ Consumer Insights and Business Innovation Center—takes it a step further. “I usually schedule one-on-one meetings with all my graduate students throughout the quarter,” he said. “I try to understand their passions, as well as their vision for their career paths. They tell me where they want to go and what they want to do, and I recommend a few books including, ‘How Will You Measure Your Life,’ and ‘Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow,’ to help them find their purpose in life and form opinions on what professional opportunities get them excited.”
When Besharat’s students were asked about the impact he has had on them, there was no shortage of glowing responses. A former student, Kendra Arenkill (BSBA 2017), who now works as a planner at the ad agency Ogilvy, said, “After taking Professor Besharat’s ‘Introduction to Marketing’ class in 2014, I knew I wanted to be a marketing major. After that class, I met with him when I was trying to find my path in the marketing world. I then turned to him as a mentor when signing up for classes and applying for internships.”
Besharat wrote recommendation letters for Arenkill and when she secured a marketing internship in Oslo, Norway, he connected her with his contacts there.
“Professor Besharat not only gave me invaluable advice, but recommended books to read, sent me his finished research to learn from and passed along internship opportunities that fit with my desired interests,” Arenkill said.
Helping students find internships and jobs could be Besharat’s second calling (after teaching of course). “I urge students to start early thinking about jobs because the employers are also starting early,” he said. “I emphasize the importance of doing internships. If students don’t have a meaningful internship before they go into the job search, then they’re not being competitive. I try to play the role of a mentor and help them build a network of reference-worthy connections so they may leverage them in the future.”
And if that wasn’t enough, Besharat also helps students prepare for interviews by reviewing potential questions and conducting mock interviews with them.
Just a few weeks ago, Besharat received an email from a former student thanking him for all his guidance and assistance. Marie Huibregtse (BSBA 2017), wrote to Professor Besharat, “I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for your early mentorship and encouragement.”
She added, “After I left DU, I worked at a tech startup doing all of their marketing automation and analytics and have now moved on to consulting for Deloitte. The mentorship you provided in terms of networking and research for the marketing independent study laid the groundwork for a lot of the work I’m doing now. Thanks for all your kind encouragement and for letting me bounce a thousand ideas off of you!”
Besharat receives dozens of emails just like this and based on the commitment he has shown to his students and their success, it’s safe to say that more will come his way.