The Institute of Politics and Public Service launched a mentorship program to connect Georgetown students with working professionals from fields including government, advocacy, consulting, journalism and public relations Oct. 29.
According to IPPS Executive Director Mo Elleithee (SFS ’94), the mentorship program falls under the institute’s greater mission of increasing the accessibility of these disciplines.
“If we can create a lot of personal connections and a direct pipeline between Georgetown students and practicing professionals, that will benefit students and the university and further cement the university’s ties with D.C.,” Elleithee said. “People are excited to help cultivate the next generation of practitioners in these fields.”
Developing these personal relationships is the main objective behind the IPPS mentorship program. Although the program is still in its initial stages of development, the IPPS has started accepting applications in the form of a basic interest questionnaire on its website. Both undergraduate and graduate students are able to request a mentor, and partnerships will be set up on a rolling basis.
The interest form asks students to discuss the type of political or public service professional with whom they are most interested in connecting, the types of skills they would most like to develop and their general interests and extracurricular activities.
Once a student is paired with a mentor, they will meet no less than three times a semester in casual settings, such as for coffee or lunch.
Elleithee explained the goal of the mentorship program is for the mentor and mentee to develop a close relationship that helps the mentee gain access to opportunities in his fields of interest.
“It’s about giving you that close-up look and having somebody that you can lean on as you figure out your path,” Elleithee said. “As we were trying to figure out what we wanted the IPPS to be, there was a general recognition that internships are great but you don’t always get one-on-one interaction with the principal.”
The program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students, and mentors range from D.C. councilmembers and reporters to Capitol Hill aides and pollsters.
“Some are the big names, but there are also folks that may not be the name in the headlines but they are still the people that make things work,” Elleithee said. “They are the people who actually get stuff done in politics and government and journalism.”
D.C. Councilmember and IPPS mentor David Grosso (LAW ’01) emphasized the importance of mentorship and expressed enthusiasm about the program.
“Mentees will definitely gain from the experiences of the mentors, but the program mentors will also gain so much from the creativity and perspective of the young people involved,” Grosso wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Some of the greatest political movements were born of the innovation of young leaders. This program is positioned to be the catalyst for an exciting exchange of ideas.”
Grosso said he intends to share his experiences as a former student and current public servant with his mentee.
“I plan to fully engage in the program by offering my time and experiences to the program and its participants,” Grosso wrote. “With my mentee, I plan to work with that individual to determine the best course of action to achieve their short term and long term goals. I also plan to involve my mentee in the work that I do on behalf of the District of Columbia.”
Annie O’Brien (COL ’19), who plans on majoring in American Studies and Government, signed up to be a mentee.
“I wanted to be a part of the mentorship program in order to gain an inside perspective of an aspect of the political system,” O’Brien wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The mentorship program seemed like a fun way to get to know a professional while also learning invaluable knowledge through shadowing the work the professional does.”
O’Brien explained that although she has yet to be paired, she is hoping her mentor will be a Hill staffer, campaign manager or journalist who is excited about sharing his knowledge and experience with her.
“I think programs like this are important in order to engage students and professionals in a way that is related to work, but not in the traditional employer-employee hierarchy that comes with internships,” O’Brien wrote. “It’s a unique way for students to get involved in what lies outside the Georgetown bubble. I think this program will integrate Georgetown more into the political sphere and widen students’ perspectives of what happens in D.C.”
Blake Atherton (SFS ’16) previously participated in the Hoya Gateway program and is interested in a mentor who has experience in both law and policy. Atherton stressed the value of the program as a professional resource for students.
“Initiatives that allow students to better capitalize on the wealth of knowledge and expertise of alumni are extremely worthwhile,” Atherton wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I believe that being better informed about professional opportunities and how to seize them will allow Georgetown students to more fully realize their potential.”
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