Mentoring Meetup

At Beyond Barnard's Mentoring Program brunch, alumnae offer students career insights and advice

By Deb Schwartz

A few weeks into the 2018-19 academic year, 137 Barnard students, full of questions, and 137 professional women, ready with guidance, met at The Diana Center for the Beyond Barnard Mentoring Program’s New York Network orientation brunch. (For more on Beyond Barnard, see "The Journey Beyond Barnard.") Now in its ninth year, the New York Network matches sophomores, juniors, and seniors with Barnard alumnae, friends, and parents. In monthly meetings, mentors offer insight into their fields, discuss possible career paths, and check in on their mentees’ progress throughout the year.

Jyoti Menon 01 and mentee Ariel Leachman ’19.

Bringing together professionals in fields ranging from tech to arts administration and students in all disciplines, the event filled The Diana Center with lively conversation as mentors and mentees met for the first time and, over bagels and fruit salad, got to know one another’s paths and passions.

The program attracts students who are clear about the direction they’d like to take as well as others who are still exploring. Léa-Jean François ’21, an environmental science major who is on the pre-med track, is considering pursuing obstetrics and gynecology or “something in pediatrics.” In a feat of matchmaking, she was paired with Anne Ferris, a two-time Barnard parent, pediatric cardiologist, and assistant professor at Columbia University. Barnard gives her all the academic support she needs, says François, but she’s looking forward to getting Ferris’s feedback on questions like, “What should I be doing with my free time? What sort of internships should I be looking at?”

Ella Bartlett ’19, a psychology major with an emphasis in English and French literature courses, is less certain about a particular path but knows she wants to pursue something related to language and translation. Her mentor, Victorine Lamothe ’11, an editor at Rizzoli International Publications, is proof that students don’t have to have it all figured out at graduation. Lamothe never expected to find herself in publishing, but the field is a perfect fit for the former Francophone studies major. Says Bartlett, “It’s so wonderful that Barnard has this network that can give guidance to students who might be a little lost like myself. I’m very curious about the different possibilities, and if someone can talk about what they’re passionate about and what they’ve made a career out of — I am so willing to listen.” •

Latest IssueWinter 2021

In this issue, learn about three alums who have devoted their careers to racial justice.