New Mentorship program launched for policy/planning students

A new mentorship program for Bloustein School graduate students in the urban planning and public policy programs has been launched for the 2019-2020 academic year. Graduate students in these programs were invited to apply to this 5-month long program, which lasts from November 2019-April 2020; they were matched with alumni and other professionals who expressed an interest in mentoring.

To mark its beginning, a Kick-Off Networking Event was held on Thursday, November 21 with 31 mentors and mentees in attendance.

“When I first started in my role, it became apparent that Bloustein has a tremendously loyal group of alumni who wished to give back to students as well as a group of students who were very interested in being connected with them,” said Andrea Garrido, Bloustein School Career Management Specialist who is overseeing the program. “So when I was approached by a few students in the spring to create a formal mentorship program, I knew the time was right to partner together and create a mentorship program as a natural outlet for that interest.”

“Students will benefit from the wealth of professional and personal experience of alumni while forming meaningful, lasting relationships, while alumni and other professionals will stay connected with the Bloustein School and make a difference in the career paths of future planners and policymakers,” she continued.

“Speaking from personal experience, participating in a mentorship program allows graduate students to seek advice at an important time in their careers,” noted Teun Deuling, one of three graduate students who initiated the mentorship program at Bloustein. “Because of the valuable career guidance I received from my own mentor, we felt that a mentorship program at Bloustein would be an impactful resource for graduate students.”

Twenty-three matches have been made in the first year of the program, with the majority of the professional participants being Bloustein alumni. Hailing from both the urban planning and policy realms and working in the public, private, nonprofit, and consulting sectors, mentors are currently located in New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Chicago and Maine. They range from new professionals with just a few years of experience to over 40 years of experience.

These professionals work for organizations such as the NASA Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (USHUD), New Jersey Office of Legislative Services, New Jersey Economic Development Agency (NJEDA), New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), County of Hudson NJ, Dresdner Robin, Capital Impact Group, Project for Public Spaces, Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, University of New Hampshire University of Pennsylvania; B6 Real Estate Advisors; HNTB Corp, Steven Winter Associates, Inc., Harbor Consultants, Kivvit, Rush Street Gaming; EdCast, Burlington County Bridge Commission, and Haahs and Associates.

“We could not have had so many professionals participate in the program without the help of our partners: the American Planning Association – New Jersey Chapter (APA-NJ), Pi Alpha Alpha Global Honor Society, and the Bloustein alumni community. It was therefore so great to work together with Zain Mahmood and Mathilde Roux – both fellow graduate students at Bloustein – as we each had direct access to one of our partners,” highlighted Deuling, who currently serves as the Bloustein student representative to the APA.

“By sharing their experience and knowledge, mentors can provide much-needed guidance and support to mentees on navigating the workplace, career, and building professional networks. Mentors and mentees are encouraged to connect regularly but each mentorship match is a unique relationship. Overall, it is a win-win for mentor and mentee, alike, and my hope is that we can grow this program in years to come,” noted Garrido.