Interview with Milt Silver
July 11, 2016
Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Professor Emeritus, Milton “Milt” Silver. I usually see Milt in the afternoon as he walks by my office to refill his coffee mug. I asked him if he had a few minutes to sit and talk with me about his experience as a mentor. With a steaming cup, he graciously sat down in my office.
Currently, Milt is the Director of Mentors for the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurs here at Drexel. I asked him to tell me about the benefits of having a mentor. He talked about how a mentor provides students with a model because the mentors have been there.” In addition to providing advice to students and alumni who are seeking to change jobs or careers, he added, “Mentors help to build confidence.”
Milt, like many in his generation, rarely changed companies more than once or twice. He worked at RCA and Western Electric. Before starting his own consulting firm, he worked his way up the prescribed corporate ladder. Unlike today, companies offered specific career paths to their employees to sequentially follow. “We used to advise young people not to develop a reputation for being a job hopper.” He smiled and shook his head and added, “But now we tell them within the first 10 years of their career, they should expect to have three jobs.”
“Changing with the times is key,” he said. He pointed out that the mentor’s job is to help his or her mentee navigate this change and make career decisions by matching up their passions and their skills with opportunities. Milt explained how historically we modeled our career paths after family members. “But those people haven’t had to jump through the same hoops as people do today.” This is, of course, where a mentor can provide a great deal of assistance.
He then asked me a question, “What is an entrepreneur?” Before I could answer, he told me with a twinkle in his eye, “Everybody.” He continued, “With the way America is changing, you owe it to yourself to see the different stages of industry, from start-up, to accelerated growth, to high fliers, to those which are much more mature. You can then learn what you want and what you don’t want.”
If you ever want to meet Milt, swing by the 3rd floor of LeBow between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon, he’s likely making his coffee run.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Director, Graduate Studies