This year, the La Follette School Student Association partnered with the La Follette School to develop a mentorship program. I am personally excited about this opportunity – as an undergraduate, my professional mentor provided me professional guidance and networking opportunities. My professional mentor also helped to identify relevant job opportunites and provided a useful recommendation for what would become my first job out of college. Other mentors I have had since my first job have remained constant sources of assistance and information and I would consider many of them to also be good friends.
Professional mentors serve many other useful purposes besides providing job search assistance. Mentors offer useful insight into policy issues we are interested in and could serve as useful collaborators or partners in future professional endeavors. Mentors also benefit from your involvement – you are their connection to the school and faculty. Your correspondence keeps them active and involved in their Alma Mater.
I signed up for the summer mentorship pilot program and have been matched with a long distance mentor on the West coast. I have corresponded with my mentor several times and already have received useful insight into what to expect when I begin my job search next year. I look forward to our continued email exchanges and any information he can provide about my focus field.
The LSSA will be offering current and incoming students the opportunity to participate in the mentorship program starting Fall 2009. If you are uncertain about whether or not to sign up, my recommendation is to commit the time to participate – it will pay out more than what you put in.