Two years ago, Jonathan Aguirre *22 was a Ph.D. candidate studying Spanish and Portuguese with a desire to move into the tech industry. Seeking advice, he signed up for a mentorship program that pairs current students with graduate alumni, run by GradFUTURES, which supports Princeton graduate students’ professional development.
He was matched with Amar Gandhi *96, a project manager at Google who received his Ph.D. in applied and computational math. Before their first virtual meeting, Aguirre was nervous, but his nerves faded once he connected screen-to-screen with Gandhi.
Aguirre said he felt comforted by Gandhi, who had “such an immediate impact [on] my life, just from the very first conversation.”
For nearly two years, Gandhi answered Aguirre’s questions about how to land an offer in tech. They agreed Aguirre should leverage his fieldwork in the Amazon, where he studied the effects of sustainable development projects, as well as his role as co-founder of a research agency, Logische Phantasie Lab.
The two dozen conversations paid off: Aguirre is now vice president and user-experience research lead at JPMorgan Chase.
“I learned so much — so many things that I did not expect,” said Aguirre. He credits Gandhi with giving him confidence in his own skills, despite his nontraditional path to tech.
Aguirre and Gandhi are among 290 student-alumni matches formed through the GradFUTURES mentorship program. What began in the summer of 2019 as an in-person pilot for Princeton students interning in Washington, D.C., now encompasses mentors and mentees from 37 of Princeton’s 42 academic departments, with connections formed both in person and online.