In Search of Mentors

A2_CartoonIt is an oft-cited truism that the most valuable learning experiences happen outside the classroom. “Mentorship” — in particular or fostering relationships that can function as academic, professional and personal resources — has become somewhat of a buzzword at Georgetown.

Although there are numerous ways for students to take advantage of mentorship both formally and informally, the university should make a concerted effort to institutionalize these opportunities and create continuity within existing programs. By ensuring continuity in university-sponsored programs and creating more accessible programs within academic departments, administrators can ensure that more students are exposed to important support networks throughout their four years.

Existing mentorship programs such as the Peer Advising Program, New Student Orientation, the Georgetown Scholarship Program and various alumni networks such as Women Advancing Gender Equality, Alumni-Mentor Program through the McDonough School of Business, Wall Street Alliance and Friends of the School of Foreign Service all have different aims. The Peer Advising Program and the New Student Orientation programs, however, lack continuity and often end prematurely during a stressful and busy time for first-year participants.

Administrators should add more oversight to these programs to ensure consistency and student outreach and responsibilities throughout the year. Peer advisors, for example, should have a detailed program with events spanning the school year, rather than simply answering emails over the summer and meeting once during NSO. In addition to specific alumni network programs, Georgetown and the Cawley Career Center should also facilitate a low-barrier mentorship system for students who have not yet decided on a career path.

Academic departments should also incorporate mentorship into their structures by following the model currently used by the new Institute of Politics and Public Service. The program aims to foster professional and personal development by connecting students to leaders in their field of interest. This model is easily replicable in academic departments to connect students to professional experts.

Georgetown students and faculty should consider developing mentorship programs with a stronger commitment to continuity and new academic department-based programs if they wish to emphasize the importance of mentorship on an ever-busy campus.

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