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Commission for Women Mentoring Program

The purpose of the mentoring program offered by Penn State Commission for Women in Hershey is to enhance professional and personal development among faculty, staff and technical-service employees by connecting them with others who can provide advice on a variety of work-related issues, including career planning, job skill enhancement and campuswide involvement.

Applications for mentors and mentees for the 2021-2022 academic year are now closed. An application link for 2022-2023 will be posted when available.

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Mentoring Program Details

Benefits of the Mentoring Program Expand answer

Mentors will have the opportunity to:

  • Help those seeking professional development
  • Meet and exchange ideas with other mentors
  • Help facilitate communication across campus locations
  • Build a strong sense of community and collegiality
  • Increase their own knowledge about mentoring through program activities
  • Gain experience while serving as a guide to someone else as they work toward their goals
  • Help their mentee network and seek resources
  • Learn from their mentee

Mentees will have the opportunity to:

  • Develop a professional relationship with someone who can advise on work-related issues
  • Participate in professional development activities
  • Network and build a circle of professional contacts
  • Learn about long-term career planning
  • Gain a better understanding of the campuswide community
  • Gain exposure to a wide range of people of all genders who have differing perspectives
  • Learn about themselves and others by getting to know people whose backgrounds may be ethnically, educationally or professionally different from theirs
  • Participate in activities that are designed to help people from across campus locations learn from each other
Expectations of Program Participants Expand answer

Both mentors and mentees are expected to:

  • Commit to one to one and a half hours to 11/2 hours per month in one-on-one mentoring sessions with their partner
  • Attend an orientation Session (a discussion of role and responsibilities)
  • Attend a kick-off dinner (an introduction to the program)
  • Develop and support the implementation of the mentee’s goals and review together regularly
  • Meet the deadline for completing and signing off on goals
  • Participate in monthly program activities/events
  • Complete a mid-year evaluation (an opportunity for self-reflection and to give program feedback)
  • Shadow one another to gain insight into and further understand each other’s job and work environment
  • Attend an end-of-year luncheon to reflect on the year and recognize participation
Program Details Expand answer

The program is intended to help foster a mentoring relationship between the pair. The mentoring program will provide several avenues throughout the year to facilitate the relationship between the pairs, but partners are also expected to seek their own activities to strengthen their relationship or help the mentee reach established goals. The mentoring program will forward any information about relevant internal and/or external programs or activities to the pairs.

Each pair begins the year by reviewing and revising the two to three goals that the mentee submitted during the application process. Establishing meaningful goals and working toward them with a mentor’s support is a foundational aspect of the program. These goals serve as an important guide throughout the year with regard to assessing the needs of the mentee during the mentoring experience, and helping both participants reap the most benefit. The goals may be revaluated and revised together as needed.

It is important for participants to note that the mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way relationship. Both partners should contribute to the experience and gain from it. The relationship is designed to last for the academic year, and though some relationships may last longer than the assigned year, it is not expected that pairs will continue.

Some pairs may not last through a full academic year. The committee matches pairs based on information in applications, but sometimes two people do not “click” in their mentoring relationship. If this is the case, it is not considered a failure on either person’s part; in such situations, participants should contact the chair of the mentoring program, or other team members, to discuss the situation and bring closure to the relationship.

Although both mentors and mentees note friendship as an important outcome of mentoring relationships, it is not expected that each pair needs to or will become friends. Many pairs have been successful at having a friendly mentoring relationship without becoming friends outside the relationship.

Likewise, while some mentees in past programs have gone on to other jobs within the University and elsewhere, this program is not designed to provide participants with new jobs. The program does, however, strive to enhance self- and career-awareness of participants (specifically the mentees), which may help to facilitate a job change.

Participants provide feedback about their experiences with the program by completing a mid-year evaluation. These evaluations are valuable to the mentoring program team as they strive to provide the best information, opportunities and events for future participants.

Possible Pair Activities Expand answer

Some activities in which mentor/mentee pairs might choose to participate include:

  • Meet for lunch or coffee
  • Attend a Commission for Women event together
  • Attend a campus lecture together (such as a Dean’s Lecture, departmental lecture or special guest lecture)
  • Meet with mentor/mentee’s co-workers to gain more insight into their work unit
  • Meet with other mentor/mentee pairs
  • Serve on a committee together
  • Read a book and discuss
  • Attend an external community event
Program-Sponsored Activity Examples Expand answer

Some past program-sponsored activities have included:

  • Orientation session for mentees and mentors on their roles and responsibilities
  • A kick-off dinner and introduction to the program
  • Informal, off-campus social gatherings
  • “A Path to Leadership: Skills & Traits Needed to Be Successful,” presentations by mentors and/or guest speaker
  • “Climbing the Admin Ladder,” presentations on career paths by top-level administrative mentors
  • Discussion of book chapter and TED Talk “Women and Work: Can we have it all?”
  • “Goals and Growth Conversations,” in which mentors and mentees discuss challenges and successes with meeting goals
  • Resume-building and interviewing tips session by Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine senior recruiters
  • Connections and Reflections Forum (participant presentations; opportunity to address evaluation feedback)
  • An open house in which current participants share experiences
  • An end-of-year luncheon to reflect on the year and recognize participation
Mentoring Program Activities Expand answer