It’s clear that having a mentor is beneficial to young professionals trying to jumpstart their careers, but being a mentor is equally as rewarding. It’s a great opportunity for professionals to share the knowledge they’ve gained over the years with the next generation of honorable leaders. That’s why TFAS launched a Mentor Program as part of our D.C. Academic Internship Programs, which take place each summer and semester. We are currently looking for new professionals and alumni to sign up by May 10 to volunteer as mentors with TFAS this summer.
The TFAS Mentor Program provides a well-rounded Washington experience for students. In addition to their classes, internships, guest lectures and educational excursions, each student is paired with a mentor to help guide them through their program. TFAS mentors are often TFAS alumni themselves, and they serve as supplemental professional contacts in D.C. for students. The program creates the perfect opportunity for working professionals to have a positive influence on a young leader’s life.
Ryan Elizabeth Cinney ’14, PPF ’17, explains how vital the Mentor Program is to students and how having a mentor augmented her TFAS experience.
“The TFAS Mentor Program is an integral part of the interns’ summer here in D.C.,” Cinney said. “Giving back and helping others is very important to me because my mentor as a Capital Semester student in 2014 far surpassed my expectations; really the entire program did. It was the best 15 weeks of my life and truly served as a stepping stone to my career in Washington.”
In addition to providing tips and tricks to making it in the nation’s capital, mentors also serve as cheerleaders to the students during their busy programs.
In many cases, participating in a TFAS program is the first time students have traveled to D.C. Living, working, and attending classes in a new place can be quite intimidating, so having a mentor gives students an additional support system to help them succeed.
The connections made through the Mentor Program often last for many years, and with the growing popularity of virtual connection these days, mentor/mentee pairs are able to stay in touch more easily. The Mentor Program was conducted virtually for the first time last summer and will be mostly virtual in summer 2021 for ease of scheduling and to follow the ever-changing public health guidelines. TFAS has adapted the program based on what we observed last summer in order to make it a rewarding experience for everyone.
Kayla Mosley ’20, a student at Lincoln University, participated in a virtual D.C. Summer Program and internship last year. She explained that having a mentor enhanced her TFAS experience and has continued to be beneficial because the relationship provided her additional advice, resources and connections.
“My mentor has helped me steadily navigate life after college and even connected me with more D.C. contacts,” Mosley said. “I truly believe that our match was a perfect one – I enjoy speaking with her every week!”
Students and mentors alike have commended TFAS for organizing the Mentor Program. It’s no surprise that the pairs get along so well – TFAS staff takes care to pair each student with D.C.-area professionals based on commonalities such as career interests, hometowns, alma maters or political ideology.
This spring, mentors and mentees met biweekly to check in and discuss a variety of topics, from resumes to networking to transitioning from college to the real world.
TFAS alumna and current mentor Samantha Summers ’13, PPF ’16, believes the Mentor Program is rewarding for both students and mentors because of the connections it establishes, which many pairs maintain after their program concludes.
“Washington, D.C., is built on the connections and relationships individuals build, and I personally find that people are happy to go out of their way to help others out,” she said. “It wasn’t too long ago when I was starting my career and relied on my past TFAS mentors and leaders to support me in my job search and transition to D.C., and now I’m happy to provide that same support and assistance to current TFAS students through the Mentor Program.”
As TFAS prepares to welcome nearly 300 students to the nation’s capital for a hybrid virtual and in-person program, we are seeking D.C.-area professionals to volunteer as mentors for the 2021 class. If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, please visit our website to learn more. All TFAS D.C. program alumni or working professionals with at least two years of experience are encouraged to sign up to become a mentor by May 10, 2021.