June 6th, 2011

Great mentors ask great questions that will lead mentees to ‘aha’ moments they wouldn’t have on their own. Their role is to poke you in the side, not pat you on the head.”

A good mentoring program is based on four things:

1. There has to be a clear rationale for how you match people.

2. You need good training for mentor and mentee roles and a structure of common expectations.

3. You need to periodically check in with participants and intervene if there are issues. “Follow through is where many company programs fail. Mentees often don’t speak up if a senior leader isn’t making time for them,” she said.

4. “There needs to be good content, seed questions and suggestions for discussion so that conversations are rich and effective.”

via Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I wholeheartedly agree. If you’ll remember, I wrote a little piece on mentors for college students here. Although I have no experienced mentoring in a workplace per se, I absolutely believe in providing students of all ages (especially girls since, well, I’m kind of partial… but boys too… yeah) with trustworthy mentors to guide them through some of the tougher choices in life.

In college especially. College is such a period of transition. It’s when children become “adults.” It’s when we learn to live on our own. It’s when we learn to balance “wants” vs. “shoulds.” It’s when we prioritize work and school and play, learn to balance a check book, practice self-control, prepare ourselves for the “real world” and all the while try to have fun! 

I think it’s imperative that students have the opportunity to connect with like-minded mentors who can help them through. If they want help, that is. But that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms!

Keep questioning,
Sara 

(via gjmueller)

April 2nd, 2011

ATTENTION UNDERGRADUATES: FIND A MENTOR!

A little self-disclosure: it’s been a rough semester.

As much as I’m enjoying my classes (particularly the Water: Science & Society and comparative religion courses), it’s been tough managing my time and my priorities, with various jobs, classes, school work, and thesis prep… and as a result, my emotions about being so busy/overwhelmed/CRAZY-STRESSED!

I know this happens to everyone at some point, whether it’s in college or not: what am I doing with my life? I need to soak everything up and do everything I can! I need to do my absolute best or else I’m going to disappoint not only myself, but others, too!

It’s tough going through these existential crises, especially if you think you’re alone. Communicating with my adviser has been paramount in getting through these tough times. Even though periods of discontent and frustration come in waves (and unfortunately affect my progress in school), it’s my determination that taps me on the shoulder every once in a while and says gently, “Hey Sar, you need a little extra help! You can do better than this!”

It’s these times when I’ve turned to my adviser and mentor for a little extra push. Not only that, but understanding too. A little aside: One of the students in our honors’ program is what we call an “adult learner.” She has a family of her own: two sons (who I believe have finished college?), and a daughter currently studying abroad in New Zealand. This is the first semester I’ve had classes with her. One morning, before diving into the deep meaning of cosmology and cosmetics (a story for another day!), she turned to me and said, “Sara, I don’t know how you all do this! I’m taking 15 credits and I can’t ever do this much again! It’s so much work… and you all manage jobs and social life, too? I can’t imagine!”

It’s true: college students are the ULTIMATE multi-taskers (albeit the ultimate procrastinators, too). Not only are we all juggling school, work, family and social life, but we’re going through an intense shift in power: we are now in control of our lives. As liberating as it is, it’s scary, too! And this is why college can be so hard if you don’t have someone to talk to, someone who understands what you, specifically, are going through. They can help tailor your college experience to fit your needs, your strengths, and your dreams!

So… this is a long-winded way of saying: GO FIND A FRIEND IN A FACULTY MEMBER. Find someone you trust, someone who is easy to talk to, someone you respect. Ideally, the trust and respect will be mutual, and can only help foster an amazing undergraduate learning experience.

Keep questioning,
Sara