By E. L. “Betsy” Smith, PhD, 2016 HBA Research Triangle Park vice president, and five year mentor
2016 celebrates my fifth year serving as a mentor for HBA Research Triangle Park. Serving as a mentor is one of my most enjoyable and fulfilling roles. I’ve seen many powerful examples of the benefits to the mentees and I’m compelled to share them. I have given pseudonyms to the individuals concerned. The stories span the five years and are not chronological. My hope is that this article will inspire others to become mentors and encourage members to participate in the mentoring program.
The HBA Research Triangle Park mentoring program is group mentoring, four mentees with two mentors. The past two years I have been a single mentor.
Getting to know each other
At the beginning of each year, I ask the mentees to take the Strengthsfinder Assessment and we refer to it throughout the program. This assessment give us all a common language and is a powerful tool for women to identify their strengths. After they have identified their strengths, I spend the rest of the program coaching them to embrace those strengths and share them with others.
Jane, one of my mentees, interviewed for a new position during our mentoring year. She used her results from the Strengthsfinder to create a PowerPoint presentation for her interview. For every responsibility on the job posting, she exhibited how she would use one of her strengths to accomplish results. She got the job.
Making a dramatic transition
Just before joining my group, Gale had left a successful tenure in academia to work for a private company. Her fellow mentees helped her understand the unwritten rules at work in corporate America. They helped smooth her transition from academia to business.
“I know that we aren’t meeting this month but I need to talk. Can we have a conference call?” implored Jillian, one of my mentees. “Sure,” replied Babs, “I’ll set it up.”
During the call Jillian explained that she had been accepted into graduate school and there was an internal job posted that “is perfect for me.” “I don’t know whether to apply for the job or begin graduate school – or both. If I do both, I’ll have no quality of life.” Each member of our group gave Jillian their input. Most importantly, they assured her that she was capable of doing both and she would be finished in two short years.
These are three real stories from my experience with the power of the HBA mentoring program. There are hundreds more, I’m sure. I hope that this article will inspire more HBA members to participate in the mentoring program as mentors and mentees. As you can see – it’s a powerful program.