Mentor - How can the affinity group help me?

How can the affinity group help me?

Affinity group mentors provide invaluable support and guidance to first-year students. As early career professionals and often Harris alumni, First Mentors are uniquely equipped to guide students on the courses, internships, and skills that will be most beneficial to their careers and to provide insights on launching careers in public policy. They help students clarify their career interests, develop professional  skills, and build connections and community at Harris and beyond.

Connecting first-years to other students with similar interests also allows the students to bounce ideas off one another and to learn more about their peers’ experiences and perspectives. The insight gained from these connections can be valuable to first-years as they consider their path at Harris and beyond. Some affinity group connections also lead to collaborations and relationships outside the scope of the Mentor Program, such as teaming up for policy competitions.

Mentor - How are the affinity groups assigned?

How are the affinity groups assigned?

The affinity groups are created based on students’ career interests, as stated on their application to the Mentor Program. Mentors for the group are selected based on professional experience that is in line with the career interests of the students in the group. Where possible, we try to select mentors who have varied backgrounds. For example, in an affinity group based on environmental policy there may be one mentor who has worked in government on environmental issues, one who has worked for an international nonprofit, and one who works for a research organization that focuses on environmental issues.  

Mentor - What if my career interests don’t line up with the rest of the affinity group, or if they change during the year?

What if my career interests don’t line up with the rest of the affinity group, or if they change during the year?

While the affinity groups are constructed very carefully, there are times when a student might feel like they don’t fit in the group as well as other students. This sometimes happens because their career interests have changed since they submitted the application, because their particular interest area is unique, or because they did not provide enough information on the application to help with the group match. 

While we will do our best to accommodate students at the beginning of the school year, we expect students to stay with their groups as the year progresses.  Additionally, though a student’s career interest may have changed, mentors can provide guidance in many areas aside from networking and assisting with internship/employment.

Mentor - How often do the groups meet?

How often do the groups meet?

First Mentors and, when possible, Senior Mentors, will meet with their affinity groups a minimum of once per quarter (3 times per year) for a facilitated discussion. The facilitated dialogue meetings are usually 90 minutes on weekday evenings, either at one of the mentor’s offices, the Harris building or any other convenient location. In addition to the quarterly meetings, there may be other events when the students in the group participate in a training or event that mentors do not need to attend. First Mentors may also want to call additional meetings or invite the students in their groups to other professional events, and they are certainly welcome to do so.

Mentor - Will one of the mentors in my affinity group also be my mentor next year?

Will one of the mentors in my affinity group also be my mentor next year?

Most likely not.  In some cases, mentors might choose to participate in affinity groups and/or one-on-one mentorships, but, more often than not, mentors will continue in their current role with a new group of students. If one of your first year mentors is available in the second year, we cannot guarantee a match with them, as they would be available to all students in the second year bidding process.

Mentor - Why are there different kinds of mentors?

Why are there different kinds of mentors?

The structure of the Mentor Program allows us to utilize mentors strategically in the first year, when students are often looking for guidance in the field of professional development, while still providing the value of a one-on-one mentorship in the second year, when students are focused on networking, securing employment, and preparing to enter the professional world.