Business People and Community

The magic of mentoring

January is National Mentoring Month. University of Miami alumni share how the Toppel Career Center’s Cane2Cane: Career & Mentorship Network has made a difference in their personal and professional lives.
Ben Dias shares how Cane2Cane: Career & Mentorship Network made a difference in his personal and professional life.
Ben Dias, who majored in American studies and economics at the University, used Cane2Cane to explore how to apply his degree to the professional world. Photo courtesy Ben Dias

Before his graduation from the University of Miami, Ben Dias contemplated what he would do after completing his studies. 

“It was 2022—so, we’re coming out of the pandemic—I was looking to get into the business world and figure out my life beyond Miami,” said Dias, who hails from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. 

One of the resources Dias used to help him figure out his next steps was Cane2Cane, an online platform offered by the Toppel Career Center where University of Miami students and alumni can connect with fellow alumni and University community members for career coaching and networking. 

Individuals looking to explore Cane2Cane, either as a mentee or mentor, can browse the community by industry, major, and company. There is also an option to connect further by race and ethnicity. The platform seamlessly connects users with professionals across 60 industries, allowing them to initiate a conversation directly through the site. 

“Our alumni on Cane2Cane have demonstrated their dedication and eagerness to support their fellow ’Canes community by sharing insights on diverse topics, from industry trends, job shadowing opportunities, interview preparation, and even navigating identities in school or the workplace,” said Keashla Marengo, associate director of career services at Toppel. “Whatever comes to mind, ’Canes can get real advice, from real people who they didn’t have access to outside of Cane2Cane.” 

Dias reached out to several alumni through Cane2Cane, eventually connecting with Eric Hogue. 

“We bonded over making mock drafts for the NFL and it came out that he has previously worked at the Federal Reserve in Kansas City,” said Dias. 

Dias, who majored in American studies and economics, was grappling with how to apply his degree to the professional world and began asking Hogue questions about the industry, hoping to find some answers. 

“His Cane2Cane profile seemed similar to mine, so I sent him a quick message and we set up a call,” said Dias. “During that call we discussed everything from our shared economics background to our love of football. He introduced me to the Fed and helped me prepare for my internship interview.” 

Through this connection, Dias landed an internship with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. 

“I can safely say I would not have been a summer analyst with the Fed without Eric,” said Dias, who is currently pursuing a J.D./M.B.A. at Vanderbilt University Law School and Owen Graduate School of Management. He plans to graduate in May 2026. 

A mentor’s perspective 

Paul McDonnough joined the Cane2Cane platform to become a mentor for the sole purpose of giving back. 

Paul McDonnough

“I believe we need to help one another,” said McDonnough, who is the strategic account manager for global events and operations at American Express Global Business Travel. “In an environment where who you know matters as much as what you know, I understand the need to pay it forward and bring forth a fellow alumnus.” 

Since joining the platform, McDonnough has not only helped students tremendously, but he has gained “great joy” providing professional life advice as well. 

"The most memorable aspect of my engagement with ’Canes is connecting them with my network,” he said. “I've successfully connected and witnessed alumni being hired across varied industries here in the New York City marketplace.” 

Students can access the Cane2Cane network through single sign-on. Mentorship opportunities are available to University alumni, faculty and staff members, and others affiliated with the University, including family members and employers. As a mentor, users can set their preferred level of involvement and how often they would like to be reached. To join the platform, visit the Toppel website

“I strongly advise all alumni to get involved in this community known as Cane2Cane,” said McDonnough. “It is a great vehicle for both professional and personal development.”