Story 14 – From Student to Mentor

By Gretchen Korf, vice president of Operations at United Health Foundation and BestPrep board member

In twenty years, my relationship with BestPrep has come full circle: from receiving career guidance from BestPrep – as a high-school student then – to facilitating volunteering and career day partnerships between BestPrep and UnitedHealth Group, as vice president of Operations for United Health Foundation.

I was first introduced to BestPrep, then known as B.E.E.F. (Business Economics Education Foundation), when I attended Minnesota Business Venture (MBV) as a high-school student. I always enjoyed my math and business classes, but didn’t know what professional opportunities existed after high school. The MBV camp gave me some direction for my future. I don’t remember much about the “company” or the product we created, but I remember I enjoyed being part of the “finance team” and thought there might be something there.

After high school, I attended the College of Saint Benedict and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in Accounting. I spent a year volunteering with the AmeriCorps, after which I began my professional career with Ernst & Young (EY).

It was during my tenure at EY that I was reintroduced to BestPrep. I was approached by a partner at the firm who was serving on the BestPrep board. He asked me to volunteer as a Resident Business Leader at MBV. The question came at a perfect time: I was seeking more purpose in my career and thought this might be the right opportunity. I went back to MBV camp with a high-school friend who attended with me when we were students – only this time we were the business professionals guiding high-schoolers.

Since this volunteer experience with BestPrep, I have continued to stay connected and deeply engaged whenever possible, including serving on the BestPrep board of directors. I think it’s no accident that I now work at a company that encourages volunteering, and have introduced BestPrep volunteer opportunities to UnitedHealth Group employees. UnitedHealth Group began providing volunteers to BestPrep’s eMentors program during the 2007-2008 school year, in which one department mentored 30 students. Since then, the program and commitment from company employees has grown significantly. During the 2015-2016 school year, UnitedHealth Group volunteers mentored 800 students, contributing to the more than 4,500 students who have been mentored by employees since the partnership began!

Gretchen with eMentors students

Gretchen with eMentors students


In addition to the eMentors program, UnitedHealth Group and BestPrep have partnered for three years to host an Annual Career Day at the UnitedHealth Group campus in Minnetonka, Minn. This event invites nearly 100 students to learn more about various career opportunities, including Finance & Accounting, Marketing, Legal, Information Technology, Human Capital, Communications, Nursing and Sales. This is another great way to provide students with a first-hand experience in the business world.

I am passionate about career readiness, financial literacy and making sure students are equipped with the basics. I feel fortunate to be connected to BestPrep, which laid that foundation for me; and now it’s my pleasure to give back through BestPrep. It is such a rewarding experience to see the impact our work has with each student!

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