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Alumni Mentor Program

Mentorship is an important component of student success in academic pursuits, professional development, and career knowledge. The Department of Political Science partners with the Alumni Office to welcome alumni participation in the program.  

The Department of Political Science invites qualified junior and senior students in our majors to partake in the Department of Political Science Alumni Mentor Program. The program began in 2017, and continues to grow with each passing year. Students are paired with alumni from the Department of Political Science based on a number of factors, mostly career-related, in order to facilitate conversation and mentorship beyond the program's timeframe. 

Students are assigned a Career Mentor and an Exploratory Mentor. All mentors in the program are alumni of the Department of Political Science and have a wealth of knowledge to share with our students. Career Mentors are those whose job or career field aligns with a student's top career aspirations, while Exploratory Mentors are those whose job or career field deviates from a student's top career aspirations, but can serve as an opportunity for the student to learn more about another career sector. Regardless, alumni mentors and student mentees can always discuss experiences at UC San Diego, navigating job applications and interviews, graduate or professional school conversations, and general advice for students for life after college. 

The Alumni Mentor Program aims to be mutually beneficial to mentors and students. 

Mentor-mentee connections are done via in-person meetings (halted, due to COVID-19), email, phone, Skype, Zoom, or other form of virtual meeting as determined by the mentor and mentee.

Eligibility & How To Apply

Eligibility is based on the following factors:

  • Political Science major
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Completion of program application by the deadline
  • Completion of one the following: 1) Career Services Center workshop - Networking 101 or; 2) Alternative Written Assignment

How To Apply:

Students apply to the program in January by completing an application form, which is sent via email to all junior and senior standing Political Science Majors. 

Timeline for the Alumni Mentor Program

The Alumni Mentor Program runs from mid-February through the end of Spring Quarter (mid-June); however, students and their mentors are more than welcome to continue the mentoring relationship for as long as both parties feel appropriate.

October - December: The Department of Political Science reaches out to the Alumni Office to begin the process of inviting interested alumni to participate in the program.

Early January: Political Science majors who are Junior and Senior standing are emailed about the program and invited to apply. 

Early - Mid-January: Students complete and submit the program application form. 

Late January: Eligible students are chosen and notified via UCSD email.

Late-January - Early February: Students must complete one of two options: 1) Career Services Center workshop - Networking 101 or; 2) Alternative Written Assignment

Mid-February: Alumni Mentor - Student Mentee matches are finalized via email. 

Check-In Expectations:

  • The Department of Political Science will check-in with mentees and mentors once every month.
  • Mentees and mentors will receive a survey at the end of the mentoring program.

Check-in 1: Early March

Check-in 2: Early April

Check-in 3: Early May

Check-in 4 & Request to provide feedback on the Alumni Mentor Program: Early June - Mid-June. 

Suggested Mentorship Activities

Mentors can help students in a variety of ways. Below are some suggestions that help build the mentoring relationship, and would be appreciated by our students:

  • Resume and Cover Letter Review: Critiquing a resume or cover letter, providing feedback on what industries are looking for in new graduates, reviewing improvements for growth. 
  • Employment Opportunities and Job Search Process: Conversing about the ever-changing job search process and possible employment opportunities, including steps for gainful employment. This is especially important given the impact of COVID-19 on employment in multiple sectors.
  • Elevator Pitch: Working with students to develop an elevator pitch that helps them show their personal and professional side to future employers.
  • Graduate School: If you completed a graduate or professional program, share your experiences with the student if it is a path they are considering. Discuss pros and cons, and relevance in your work industry in terms of advancement.
  • Informational Interviews: Let students ask questions about your role, industry, any projects or important responsibilities you have, and the trajectory of your career. Discussion about more "unsaid" topics - like office culture and politics - are also helpful. Share about the different jobs you had while in college and since graduating, and suggestions for your mentee on finding similar roles. 
  • Mock Interviews: Incorporating practice interviews with the student is an invaluable experience, and helps the student see areas of strength and improvements.
  • LinkedIn: Profile creation, how to use LinkedIn to network, and personal branding.
  • Networking Tips: Talking to the student about the best practices when it comes to networking as a new professional, within the industry you work in, and any pitfalls to avoid. If mentors and mentees are comfortable, mentors can connect the student with colleagues or other professionals for informal networking and informational interviews. 
  • Technology: What type of technology your company uses, technological skills the student should have or learn, and any growing trends within your industry relating to technology. 

Student Feedback about the Alumni Mentor Program

Many students interested in the Alumni Mentor Program wonder what some of the benefits of participating in such a program are. Below is some anonymous feedback we received from students!

What were the benefits of participating in the Alumni Mentor Program?

"The benefits that I found in the program was guidance for possible career paths. Not only did my mentors offer me help in guidance at UCSD, but they also referred me to other lawyers or political scientists whom they are connected with. As a first generation transfer student, this program allowed me to see other opportunities that I can have with my academic path and career."

"I got connected with a really personable lawyer and we related on a lot of things such as our educational background (first gen) as well as some insecurities and obstacles we faced. I feel so lucky to have been matched with a mentor i am super compatible and similar to (my Career Mentor)."

"An outside perspective on the value of an undergraduate Political Science education was useful, especially their thoughts on UCSD in hindsight."

"I got to connect with someone who went through a lot of the experiences that I did and cared about getting to know about my plans!"

"I learned a lot about different job options, internships, and advice."

"I got lots of advice about careers, work-life balance, etc. My mentors were super helpful. I also loved the document of questions, they are good questions to ask anyone when asking for career advice."

"It provides a good perspective from someone with real world experience especially from someone who has gone through the same rigor of attending UCSD."

Alumni Feedback about the Alumni Mentor Program

Equally curious like our students, our alumni also want to know the benefits they get from participating in the Alumni Mentor Program. Below is some anonymous feedback we received from alumni!

What was a benefit of participating in the Political Science Alumni Mentor Program as an Alumni?

"It reminded me of the challenges and needs of undergrads. It gave me an actionable way to be connected and give back to my home department!"

"I think I shed some light on some possible career alternatives for my mentee. I've taken a "less-than-typical" trajectory with my career for a Political Science alum. I think they were surprised to learn of an atypical career path."

"Was great to pass along advice that I had received in my career. I was very impressed by the two students I got to meet and plan to stay in contact."

"I'm happy to help, hopefully they pay it forward some day. They were very professional and adaptable."

"This was a great opportunity to connect with students and offer them advice about the field. It was such a nice experience to listen to their concerns and be able to offer a helping hand."

"I felt like I was able to impart some helpful data and suggestions due to my experience on campus and as a professional."

"Glad to help and give back to a department that I greatly enjoyed being a part of as a student."

"It was great speaking with someone in the UCDC program and getting their perspective on joining the workforce, to see how things have changed and evolved since I was there."

"It was interesting to see a different class/generation questioning their career path the same way I did once. Glad I was able to provide guidance and feedback on my own experience."

"Felt good to connect with the next generation of UCSD students!"

"It was helpful to understand the new course offerings students can take and how they are shaping their approach towards thinking about graduate school and career paths."