Have you ever had a mentor? If you answered “Yes,” then count your blessings. This means you’ve benefited from a seasoned professional who shared his or her hard-earned expertise, insights and networks to help super-charge your career. It also means you’ve given someone the satisfaction of sharing his or her knowledge to make a real difference for an up-and-coming professional.
January is National Mentoring Month, a period set aside to celebrate the life-changing relationship between mentors and mentees.
“This is a great time to reflect on whether you’d like to become a mentor, yourself, to help someone who is trying to advance professionally,” says UMGC Associate Director of Career Programming Cathy Francois. “While mentoring only take a little of your time, it can have a dramatic impact on the trajectory of an up-and comer’s career.”
UMGC’s mentoring offerings
UMGC offers mentoring year-round through its career mentor program, Community Connect. By participating in this Career Services offering, students and alumni can tap into the power of the UMGC community by connecting with more than 4,600 mentors. These successful professionals share their time, knowledge and guidance to help less-seasoned employees reach their career goals.
"It's rewarding to witness the successful mentorship connections through the Career Mentor Program," says Francois.
There are two ways to connect within the Community Connect program. Mentees can establish a “quick connect” option to filter through profiles of participating mentors to request a brief informational interview or send a short message to network and gain career and industry insights.
Those looking to establish a longer term mentorship type relationship can use the online profile matching tool to help start a valuable and rewarding relationship. When a mentor is paired with a mentee, the two agree on goals they would like to accomplish within a set period of time, up to six months. They also decide how frequently they’d like to communicate and the best way to connect. Then, they set to work on the agreed-upon career milestones. Often mentors share their personal stories of how they overcame obstacles to meet their own professional goals.
While the mentoring relationship has obvious benefits for mentees, mentors often walk away from the experience all the better for it, too. Mentors enjoy the altruistic nature of helping others, but they also benefit from engaging in the professional development of others.
“Our mentors often reach out to me to tell me how much they learned throughout the mentoring process,” says Francois. “It really is a win-win situation.”
Become a mentor, find a mentor
UMGC’s Career Services is welcoming new mentors and mentees. Ideal mentors are reliable and flexible and have the knowledge, skills and expertise to help someone else. They also put effort into building a positive relationship with their mentees so they can trust each other and work together as a team.
Visit careerquest.umgc.edu to learn more about UMGC Career Services and to register to participate in the Community Connect program, whether you’re looking for a mentor or would like to sign up to become one.