Mentors are caring professionals who share their knowledge, experience, and expertise to help mentees reach their unique professional goals and expand their networks. What would having an IT mentor mean to you? What would it mean to be a mentor to one of your more-junior colleagues? With the Michigan IT Mentor program, U-M IT professionals have the opportunity to empower one another through strong mentoring relationships.
The Michigan IT Mentor program connects more-senior and more-junior staff members who share similar interests and experiences related to their professional goals. Mentees learn from their mentors first-hand experiences and understanding of the field, and mentors learn and grow through the mentoring process.
The 2020 Michigan IT Mentor Program, which took place from March through June of this year, presented new challenges as mentors and mentees adapted to working remotely while also maintaining their mentoring relationship.
In a follow-up survey to mentors and mentees, one participant shared, “I didn’t think mentoring over Zoom would be as effective/enjoyable as in person, but it surprisingly was.”
Another participant shared, “My biggest take-away was thinking about problems or challenges from a different perspective. Given all the changes occurring over the last several months, it was good to have a mentor to speak to about thoughts/ideas.”
To participate in the program, interested staff members should be able and willing to meet remotely at least once a month with their mentor/mentee during normal business hours between March and June. As part of their application, mentors will write a short bio and identify their mentoring interests. Mentees will be able to read potential mentors’ bios and, after identifying their personal goals for the program, select their preferred mentors.
The program team matches mentors and mentees together based on their individual mentoring and professional development goals and areas of interest. They also make an effort to match people outside of their typical working group(s) while taking the mentee’s preference of mentors into consideration.
During the four-month program, mentors and mentees will attend a remote orientation session, participate in monthly one-on-one meetings with one another, and, near the end, provide feedback to the planning team through a feedback session and/or online survey.
Nearly 200 members of the Michigan IT community have participated in the program since it piloted in 2017. Since then, the program has expanded to include group mentoring for mentees with similar professional development goals.
“Our goal is really to get things started, match mentors and mentees, and provide them with tools and an environment to form a meaningful mentoring relationship,” said Stefanie Horvath, assistant director of ITS communications and member of the Michigan IT Mentor planning committee. “We’re always thrilled to hear about mentors and mentees who choose to continue to meet after the program formally ends, as it means they got real value out of the program.”
Recruitment for the next program session will begin in December and will be communicated via email, in the Michigan IT newsletter, and on the VPIT-CIO website.
The program team looks forward to working with new mentors and mentees. Will you be one of them?