A Legacy of Mentorship – The BPE Program’s Unique Appeal

Written By Prabhav Kamojjhala

It was the beginning of the Spring semester of my first year – before the pandemic had hit the Tri-State Area. Standing in a crowded room in the lower concourse of Tisch Hall, a flock of BPE juniors and first years gathered around to pair potential mentors and mentees. As I learned about the different journeys the Junior class went through, I felt a sense of calm wash over me. I realised what I was looking for – a mentor. 

It is hard to go through your first year of college alone. From the sudden jump in the rigour of coursework to the wealth of choice in career paths, Stern is an environment that pushes you to be proactive and forge a path for yourself. As someone who is chronically indecisive, however, this pushing was more a source of stress than a source of empowerment.

It was in this regard that I found the unique culture of mentorship in the BPE program to be such a pivotal part of my experience. At every bend in the road, my many BPE Mentors helped me develop my passions and navigate the world of opportunity (and sometimes stress) that is Stern.

One of the ways in which the BPE program builds mentorship in the community is through pairing first-years with juniors to guide them. Predominantly a student-run effort, every year, the BPE Junior class pairs first-year students with Junior-year mentors who are focused on career paths that might be of interest to them. This mentorship allows first-year students to learn about what they can do with their degree, allowing them to better position themselves down the road.

My Junior-year mentor – Dharaa Rathi – for example, helped me make informed decisions on where I wanted to take my career. Not only did she talk to me at length about her professional journey, but she also taught me to present myself in professional settings and helped me build my network. It was through Dharaa’s advice that I eventually realised I wanted to start my career in consulting.

Even beyond the classroom, however, the element of mentorship central to BPE has helped me. When I started my summer internship at Deloitte Consulting, Harry Han, a BPE alum, served as a mentor to me within the firm. Learning from his advice, I was able to put my best foot forward and truly grow through the experience.

Aldo Gonzales Aragon, the former Editor-in-Chief of this publication and a BPE alum, encouraged me to hone my passion for writing and got me involved in the Gould Standard. As the current Editor-in-Chief of the paper, I can say that Aldo’s initial encouragement played a pivotal role in shaping my growth as a writer and helped make me become a more well-rounded person.

This unique sense of camaraderie is a byproduct of the program’s structure. With a smaller class size and two semesters abroad, the BPE program encourages students to build deep and lasting connections within their cohort. Over the course of spending time together in London and Shanghai, each cohort gets the unique opportunity to form a tight-knit community through shared experiences. In this regard, reciprocity comes as second nature to BPE students – a contrast to the more competitive environment outside the program. Nearly 12 years in, the persistence of this student-run initiative speaks volumes to the strength of the bonds that hold the BPE community together.

This sense of reciprocity has also defined my journey within the BPE program. Be it helping current juniors prepare for case interviews or serving as a mentor for a first-year student myself, having the chance to pay it forward has been immensely rewarding. Yet mentorship is rarely a one-way street. As a mentor, I have also enjoyed the opportunity to get to know mentees better and learn from how they think through complex decisions as well.

College is different from high school in that the objectives post graduation are rarely well defined. To have a mentor is thus to have someone in your corner, helping you navigate the ambiguity that comes with the new environment you are in. To have not just one but multiple such as I went through college, has been an immensely meaningful experience for me. It therefore gives me a great sense of happiness to know that future generations of BPE students will get to experience the same. 

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