Networking can be an integral part of the educational experience at the UMD School of Public Policy. Graduates from the School have noted the importance of networking and the effect those working relationships can have throughout their careers. In an effort to help graduate students and undergraduate students, the School of Public Policy’s Career Services and Alumni Relations recently launched a new Policy Terps Mentor Network program.
The new program establishes a mentor-mentee relationship between second-year public policy graduate students and undergraduate students. Currently, the program has 14 pairs of students representing all class years and policy specializations. The students are given the opportunity to gain insight into the field of public policy and explore their professional and personal goals.
Ethan Ebert-Zavos, a freshman public policy major, says he decided to participate in the new mentor program to gain academic and professional advice from a student in the policy field. “I thought it would be especially beneficial to learn about another person’s collegiate internship and job experiences,” he says. “I was hoping to be matched with someone who could help me garner more practical experience with public policy and could aid in the development of my own academic path.”
Ebert-Zavos was paired with second-year public policy student Ashton Raffety. “I signed up for the Policy Terp Mentor Network Program so I could inspire an undergraduate student to get involved in public policy,” Raffety says. “I hope to give my mentee some valuable advice on where he would like to take his future studies or career. Since I’m not done with my studies yet either, I also hoped my mentee would have some insight on career paths I hadn’t thought of myself.”
Raffety says the new program is a great benefit for students. “Programs like this are important because it can be difficult to decipher the different paths that different degrees or fields of study can take you,” he says. “For an undergraduate student to have a graduate student as a guiding voice will help them figure out what they’re interested in, and then make suggestions on how they can pursue their interests.”
After starting at UMD as a biology major, Ebert-Zavos says he later switched to public policy. “I discovered public policy at the Maryland Marquee Day, which I attended as a senior in high school,” Ebert-Zavos says. “I learned just how interesting the field truly is. It combines my intellectual curiosity with hands-on problem solving and analysis.”
He says his relationship with Raffety has helped him learn more about the policy field and about the School of Public Policy. “He’s made me feel more connected to the School,” Ebert-Zavos says. “He also connected me with people in the field that could help lead me to an internship opportunity.”
After graduation, Ebert-Zavos says he wants to work in the public sector for a government agency and gain experience understanding different components of the policy process.
“The mentor program is extremely useful for students at SPP,” he says. “As mentees, we are able to gain information from students who have actually worked with public policy at the professional level. Policy mentors can truly provide meaningful advice and support as one navigates through the internship process. And based upon the actions of my mentor, mentors can help to expand their mentee’s network, which is imperative for someone in the policy field.”
The program officially began earlier this semester with a kickoff event on September 25.