Scaling Mentorship Across Parsons School of Design

A proposal for a multi-pronged model of mentorship to be developed and launched at Parsons School of Design, adaptable by each major department according to student needs.

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KEYWORDS

Critical Thinking, Future, Mapping, Operations, Systems Thinking

Sabrina Romviel

SUMMARY

Some Parsons students, myself included, have navigated their college journey through building relationships with professors and peers in higher grade levels who have offered them guidance or support. These professors or peers effectively act as mentors: experienced people with an interest in supporting less experienced people in their personal and professional development. The problem? Students not lucky enough to spontaneously encounter these mentors in their college journey struggle to find direction.
To ensure all Parsons students are given the individualized support they need to pave their way through Parsons and into their post-graduate endeavors with clarity, mentorship must be made more intentional at Parsons School of Design. To respond to this need, I propose Parsons implements a multi-pronged mentorship model across each program of study, adaptable according to student needs, but uniform in its mission to make student support more student-centered through the help of dedicated program mentors.

challenge 

Overcoming tunnel vision was my biggest challenge. I went into the prototyping process with a vision of creating not only a PDF proposal and guide, but an extensive project management suite to guide each department through program execution. Midway through trying to build the project management suite, I realized where I had gone wrong: the ethos around my project was around user-centered design, and here I was, trying to build a Monday.com dashboard without participation from the specific users in each department.
I wouldn’t have had the time to conduct user testing and iterate the project management suite accordingly for each department, so I decided to put the project management suite on hold and focus on the proposal itself. Should I collaborate with the Parsons administration to move forward with the idea, I will pick up where I left off, with iterative, user-centered design and testing.

Outcome

I came up with a modular model of mentorship with three main “prongs,” or focus areas: academic, professional, and personal. While this model has been effective in my presentations to program directors and Parsons administration to communicate the big idea, I’ve also realized that in order to bring it to execution, it may be more effective to refine it to one focus area. For instance, I may want to begin by proposing a model focused on professional mentorship before I try to integrate academic and personal within it somehow.
That said, from a high level, the proposal has been well-received and leaves plenty of room for conversation, which has been an invaluable part of my research and prototyping process.