Mentor program marks 30 years of making matches

June 27, 2017
A student and mentor with the Humphrey School mentor program

Since its quiet beginning three decades ago, the mentor program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs has grown into one of the most distinctive in the country, giving thousands of students valuable insights into career planning in public service through relationships with dedicated mentors.

The mentor program is the oldest at the University of Minnesota, and one of the oldest among public affairs schools in the United States, according to Jen Guyer-Wood, director of Career Services at the Humphrey School.

“When a student comes to me and they’re struggling to find a career path, the first thing I do is see if they’ve got a mentor,” Guyer-Wood said. “Our mentors are really good. They welcome students into their networks as peers. They provide advice and guidance for students who are not quite clear yet on their goals.”

Each year the program matches nearly 100 Humphrey School students with mentors, both locally and globally.

Students typically gain a wealth of career advice and guidance from their mentors, as well as professional connections that can lead to an internship or a job after graduation. “One of the best things about my Humphrey experience was the relationships I developed with my mentors,” said Akua Asare, who received an MPP degree from the school in 2015. “They encouraged me to dig deeper into my assumptions.”

Guyer-Wood added that the Humphrey School’s mentor program is unique because of its focus on meeting the individual needs of each student participant.

“It’s really a specialized and intentional process to match students with the right mentors,” she said. “Magic happens when they first meet. We can see them click immediately.”