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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

A&S Student Learns About Intelligence Careers From Alum Mentor

Office of Undergraduate Academic and Career Advising virtually connects alumni and students.

April 28, 2020, by Dan Bernardi

Bob Wright and student.jpg
Taylor Stover ’23 receives virtual mentoring advice from Bob Wright ’71.

While the future may seem uncertain for students preparing to enter the workforce, alumni of the College of Arts and Sciences | Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs want them to know one thing: they’ve got your back. Over 100 A&S and Maxwell alumni recently answered the call to become virtual mentors and offer career advice to students. Staff from the Office of Undergraduate Academic and Career Advising have facilitated online meetings between students and alumni based on shared interests. These virtual sessions offer students the chance to learn more about career opportunities in the field of their choice while helping them network and polish their communication skills.

Retired Lt. Colonel Bob Wright ’71 majored in geography and Soviet studies at Syracuse University and went on to work in government intelligence for over 40 years. Through the virtual mentoring program, Wright has been able to pass along valuable lessons to students interested in a career in government intelligence.

In my mentoring sessions, I have shared information on internship opportunities, strategies for career success and advice I learned over my 40-plus-year career,” says Wright. His recommendation to students? Make the most out of their liberal arts education. “Take a course in psychology, study interpersonal communications, and follow the latest work in neuroscience to master essential soft skills.”

One of the students he mentored was Taylor Stover ’23, an international relations major and French minor. Her conversation with Wright exposed her to the variety of careers within the intelligence field, many of which she had not previously considered or known about.

“I got to learn so much more about the contracting side of the intelligence community,” says Stover. “It was a great complement to a course I took this semester on the U.S. intelligence community, and it provided me with a practical perspective. Bob gave me some great advice on how helpful internships can be in getting your foot in the door too.”

The experience has been a rewarding one for Wright, as it has offered him the chance to see the passion, drive and scholarship in students like Stover. “This has shown me that our future will be in good hands thanks to the education Syracuse offers its students,” he says. “I've seen the keen interest in the students' eyes, and how their faces light up, when they hear something they can use right now.”

No matter the career field or number of years in the workforce, all A&S | Maxwell alumni have valuable professional advice that could benefit current students, says Wright, who encourages other alumni to be a mentor, too.Let students take advantage of your expertise and experience to give them a head start in the job market upon graduation. To make the world a better place, invest some of your time in students at Syracuse.”

To help alumni start mentoring, A&S | Maxwell alumni relations has developed a form to best match mentor interests with students’ academic needs. Alumni provide their graduation year, major, location and expertise or current position. Students can then search the list of alumni and select those that fit their career aspirations. Once a match is made, a representative from academic and career advising will facilitate a connection via video chat or phone. Students who would like to connect with a mentor can complete the student form.