Using StudentMentor.org to Find a Professional Mentor
Mentors Help Pave the Way for New Professionals in the Field
This is an interview with 24-year-old Ashkon Jafari, Co-Founder and Executive Director of StudentMentor.org, who was born and raised in the Silicon Valley. Ashkon attended Santa Clara University where he majored in Finance and graduated in the top 1% of his class.
The organization, StudentMentor.org, sprung from my own personal experience of having an outstanding mentor, my former boss in my college internship. My mentor not only advised me on what classes I should be taking, but also helped me to get a job, and to succeed academically. My mentor really went out of his way to tell me what classes were pertinent to the workforce and what I needed to be studying in order to have a better chance of getting hired after graduation.
About Ashkon's Co-Founder Stephanie:
My Co-founder Stephanie Bravo, 25, had a more formal mentorship experience. She was paired with a medical student through a Stanford Medical School mentorship program. Despite being a first-generation college student who was unsure of how to attain her dream of becoming a doctor, her mentor helped her to navigate through the pre-medical pathway. Today, she is attending medical school where she is the chair of the school's minority mentorship program.
Creating a Professional Mentoring Experience for Students:
Our two experiences coalesced around realizing that the knowledge that we gained from our mentors was the exact type of experience that many students in college also need today to get started in their careers. Being in the Silicon Valley, we decided to leverage technology to benefit society and take our experiences to benefit students nationwide. This is what led us to create StudentMentor.org while also identifying and addressing the shortcomings of other mentorship programs.
There is a disproportionate need for mentorship programs specifically tailored to college students. There are some mentorship programs offered mostly to specific sub-groups, but few universities have established wide-reaching mentorship programs.
StudentMentor.org leverages web technology to conduct real-time mentorship matches for college students. We offer customized matches where both Mentees and Mentors choose with whom they would like to work, based on the Mentee's goals and what matters most to them. Unlike the status quo, our mentorships offer the flexibility and convenience of meeting either in-person or virtually depending on the Mentee's preferences. We feel that StudentMentor.org offers a unique program that attends specifically to the needs of college students.
Ashkon offered to answer a series of interview question about StudentMentor.org.
1. Please describe what benefits a student would get from using StudentMentor.org.
Benefits from using StudentMentor.org:
- Enhances confidence and offers challenges to set higher goals, take risks and achieve at higher levels.
- Individual recognition and encouragement.
- Psychosocial support.
- Advice on balancing range of academic and professional responsibilities.
- Provides role modeling for professional leadership and facilitates the development of increased competencies and stronger interpersonal skills.
- Access to a support system during critical stages of your academic and career development.
- An insider’s perspective on navigating your career.
- Exposure to diverse perspectives and experiences.
- Direct access to powerful resources within your major or profession.
- The foundation of a lasting professional and personal network.
For example, Steven, a college junior interested in law school could connect with an attorney to get insight into what law school and the legal profession is all about. Or Susie, a sophomore biology and psychology double major is beginning her internship search but unsure of which field she wants to pursue. She could seek out a mentor from both fields and learn about the day-to-day life to help her with her decision. Ultimately, mentoring is an extension of networking, which is now needed more than ever in today’s competitive and complex workforce.
2. What resources does StudentMentor.org have to offer students?
For the first time ever, any college student, at any school in any major, can receive academic and career mentorship from professionals currently working in a large variety of career fields.
Here’s how it works:
College students sign up as mentees and professionals sign up as mentors. Next, each is presented with a list of possible matches in real time. This means that you’ll see your list of matches instantly. Mentees and mentors choose their ideal mentorship match and decide when and where it takes place (either in-person or virtually). The result? Mentees go on their way towards achieving their goals and aspirations while mentors receive great personal satisfaction and growth from assisting students in learning more about career options and their specific area of expertise.
3. How can a student best utilize what StudentMentor.org has to offer?
Students should try to set clear goals of what they want to accomplish with their mentors, and work diligently towards them. Also, our organization understands that a student might have questions on work-life balance and at the same time need some help practicing their interviewing skills. The student can create multiple mentorship requests to draw from the knowledge and expertise of multiple mentors.
4. What background do mentors typically have in order to be able to work with students?
The vast majority of our mentors tend to be working professionals that want to give back to the next generation by imparting and sharing their life-long learning. We have a Harvard law student, and multiple doctors, business executives, and authors, to name just a few.
5. Is StudentMentor.org a totally free resource for students?
Yes, and we are a nonprofit organization.
6. What can a student get from StudentMentor.org that they can’t get elsewhere?
Most students are unable to access professionals in the very areas that they are majoring and pursuing careers in. Even if students can access these professionals, the professionals might not be in the mindset of mentoring. If your a student in Chicago interested in the entertainment industry, you could match with a mentor in that industry based in Los Angeles or anywhere else where we have a mentor signed up; or say you’re a student in Texas interested in Wall Street, we can match you up with a mentor there as well.