Many of us tend to make life-changing decisions without seeking the opinion of people who have substantial experience in our field of interest. Some of us may not discuss our choice with anyone at all, even those closest to us. Perhaps you think it is an easy decision, or one too personal to discuss, or a weakness not to be exposed.
These are false assumptions, and the truth is, there is absolutely nothing lost—and everything to be gained—in asking for sage advice. Most people like to be asked for advice. What you are telling them is that they are smart, and that you respect them. It is a compliment to be asked for advice.
With these thoughts in mind, the Alumni Chapter of the Schar School of Policy and Government established the Alumni Mentoring Program. The program provides a way to connect Schar School alumni and students with mentors for guidance and experienced, thoughtful, advice.
The Alumni Mentorship program does more than serve as a way to gain greater knowledge to make better decisions. It creates opportunities for the participants to connect with the professional network best suited to their career interests and goals, expanding the resources of the mentee, and even the mentor.
“I could not have gotten where I am in my career without mentors guiding me throughout every step of my career,” 2009 MPA grad Emily Mark told us. “The Schar School mentoring program was created to build trusting, caring, and meaningful relationships amongst the Schar School alumni community.”
Participants such as Emily benefit by staying connected to the school and its considerable resources, expanding their professional network, finding resources they had no idea about, and, in short, building beneficial relationships.
Each September, after completing a simple application process, approximately 80 students are matched by the Alumni Student Support Committee and the Schar School Development Office. A reception is then held at the Schar School to allow mentors and mentees to mingle, learn about the ground rules, and ask questions of the program directors and co-chairs of the Student Support Committee.
Throughout the mentorship process, mentees work toward goals and professional growth, while mentors support them through next-level career decisions and engagements. Mentors and mentees meet either face-to-face, on the phone, or through frequent e-communication each month.
The next class of alumni volunteers and student participants will be sought in Summer 2019. We’d be glad to have you join it.
Colin R. Hart is the Schar School Alumni Chapter Board President and a graduate of the Master’s in International Commerce and Policy (’93).