Website connects students with mentors

By Emily Daly
The Guardsman

Ashkon Jafari, co-founder of and inspired by his own mentor who shaped his life in college, quit his job in finance at a high-tech company to start a website connecting students with professionals across the country.

He was also inspired by some of his classmates who struggled without their own mentors.

“I saw this huge need and saw it could help so many students,” Jafari said.

Mentors and student mentees fill out profiles on the website to find matches. Mentors list their professional and industry experience, and students provide their academic information and career interests. The website sends then sends mentor matches to the students.

Students contact their mentor through’s messaging service, or later by email or phone. Approximately 90 percent of mentorships take place between individuals who live too far apart to meet face to face, Jafari said.

City College student Saeko Imai, 22, thought the concept of a mentor would be useful for new students who need help choosing a career or major.

“Some students major in nursing or engineering because they want a good job, but then after a few semesters they say, wait, I didn’t know what I was getting into. Then they start all over and take a bunch of philosophy classes,” she said.

Imai concentrated on theater and acting classes when she first attended City College, but recently decided on majoring in anthropology.

“It’s kind of a cliche, but I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do when I started college,” she said. She added that she thought the opportunity to ask someone who was finished with school and already had a career could help students decide what they want to study.

Gregory Johnson, a City College career counselor who teaches the LERN 60 Career Success and Life Planning class, said the department stresses mentorships, internships and informational interviewing for students who are in the process of choosing a career.

The LERN 60 class teaches a holistic approach to career planning, and focuses on developing confidence and gathering information for students identifying a career direction or major, Johnson said.

The website launched at the end of September after six months of preparation. The non-profit is entirely volunteer-based, consisting of 25 employees who work for free on website maintenance and marketing. Some companies have donated free services such as printing and marketing to, Jafari said.

Mentors and mentees from over 300 universities registered with, Jafari said. He hopes to reach even more once the program expands.

“Our end goal is to help students reach their aspirations,” Jafari said.


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