John Gaffney

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John Gaffney

Current Position:

Intelligence OfficerU.S. Air Force Reserve


Q: What are some of the topics you and your mentee talk about?

Typically, we talk about AJ’s (my mentee) career goals, how he is doing in class, and I offer experiences of mine in terms of giving him insight into things I’ve already been through.

Over the summer he had an internship at the U.S. Army’s Carlisle Barracks.  I answered questions he had on how best to interact and work with people who are currently in the military.  Also, I provided AJ with background information and advice on questions he could ask his active military co-workers which would help him decide whether or not to pursue a military career. I was able to help bridge some of my experiences in the military to give him insights into his time there.


Q: Do you find it difficult to find common ground due to a generation difference?

My military service has kept me in constant contact with young men and women.  I am constantly updating my leadership and mentorship skills in order to best interact with our newest military members.  It has enabled me to easily interact with AJ.  Plus, we also have Penn State in common, which offers a point to quickly build rapport and open conversation.


Q: What motivated you to become a mentor?

I wanted to help students make their career decisions. I find that Liberal Arts students tend to have a hard time focusing on a career because they want to do everything.  When I was a student, I followed my interests and picked International Politics.  I think the College of Liberal Arts gives students the opportunity to follow their interests.  Today more than ever recent college graduates need to focus early on a career. If I can help AJ by providing him a view of what a career looks like from my side, I think that is very beneficial.  Some things you just can’t find out about until you live it.


Q: What is most fulfilling about your mentor/mentee relationship?

If I can provide AJ and other students advice and direction and hear that it helped them make a successful career decision then the Mentor program is a fulfilling experience both of us.


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