Dan: We regret that we can’t be with you in beautiful northern Michigan today, but we’re pleased that we can still participate in this panel presentation.
Bethany: Here’s what we plan to talk to you about today.
Dan: There are 3 basic types of mentoring in technical communication.
Bridging the two … This is our focus today.
Dan: This is Bethany’s and my second year as co-leads for the Student Outreach Team on STC’s Community Affairs Committee, or CAC. As mentor and mentee ourselves and as co-managers of the mentoring program between the STC-Orlando chapter and the University of Central Florida, we see student mentoring programs as an integral part of the student outreach initiative.
Bethany: Within the CAC initiative, we see two types of mentoring programs developing: First, pairing STC student communities with nearby geographic communities for face-to-face interaction. Second, pairing STC student members who are not near geographic communities with members of the Academic SIG: by definition, virtual mentoring.
Dan: Our program in Orlando is primarily face-to-face, although e-mail, telephone, and other media play a role as well. Similarly, the program between the STC-France chapter and the University of Paris is mostly face-to-face, although it did involve a few virtual mentoring partnerships as well.
Dan: Interestingly, it was a virtual mentoring relationship between Clio Fouque, then secretary of the STC-France chapter and a graduate student at the University of Paris, and me that led to the mentoring program over there. Clio and I met at the STC conference in Atlanta. We kicked off a mentoring relationship with our one and only face-to-face meeting at the conference and we communicated strictly be email from that point.
Bethany: Even though Dan and I have met frequently face-to-face, as it turns out, most of those meetings were devoted to our mutual STC and publishing projects. We’ve actually done most of our mentoring via long e-mail threads where we change font color on each exchange. We call it “electronic ping pong,” and you’d be surprised how much we have shared in that manner, to our mutual benefit.
Dan: Social media could obviously also play an integral role in virtual mentoring as well. Bethany forced me to bite the bullet and learn Facebook, so I’m now an expert practitioner.
Bethany: …That’s what he thinks … his first post was 500 words.
Dan: You should talk. Do you or do you not punctuate text messages?
Dan: The Academic SIG is going to launch a virtual mentoring initiative in the coming year, spear-headed by Sally Henschel at Midwestern State University.
Bethany: We anticipate two types of virtual mentoring partnerships … one general, like Dan’s and Clio’s, the other tied to STC’s technical communication Body of Knowledge project.
Dan: So what does it take to start a student mentoring program?
Dan: All you have to do is hire us, and we’ll take care of everything! Our rates are reasonable and we will deal with you under the table so you do not run afoul of IRS issues … .
Bethany: Seriously, though, this could be the most important chart in our presentation. With these 2 ingredients, and a willingness to put in a couple months of work, you almost can’t fail. Absent either one, forget it, you almost can’t succeed.
Bethany: So how do we achieve the kind of success we have enjoyed with our program? It’s all about organization and tools.
Dan: We have a turnkey toolkit that will keep you from “reinventing wheels” in establishing and administering a mentoring program.
Bethany: Pam has set up a display with a printed reference guide on student mentoring programs and an accompanying DVD. We encourage you to browse through these materials. If you’d like us to mail you a copy, we’ll be glad to do that … just give your mailing address to Pam.
Dan: So, when you have all the tools, what’s next?
Bethany: It’s all about recruitment.
Dan: In Orlando, it’s my job to line up commitments from mentors and Bethany’s to find prospective mentees. I use promotionals on the chapter listserv and in the newsletter, announcements at chapter meetings, and personal phone calls. Once I have at least a half dozen firm commitments, I turn Bethany loose to troll for mentees.
Bethany: I faced a big challenge at UCF in recruiting mentees because we do require students to join the STC Orlando chapter to participate in the mentoring program … SQUEEZING MONEY OUT OF STARVING, JOB-HUNGRY COLLEGE STUDENTS. I did whatever it takes … bribery with candy, car-jacking people to STC meetings, etc. So if we did it, you can do it!
Aside from money, the main thing we’re looking for from mentees is their time.
Dan: Once you have the time commitment on both sides, the next step is pairing.
Bethany: And these are two of our PAIRS. Pairing is probably the most important responsibility for the coordinators. The better the matches, the better the mentoring. And here’s where the TOOLKIT really comes in handy.
Dan: I extract data from mentor applications and compile it into a mentor summary form. The data includes areas of expertise, schedule availability, preferred means of communication, areas of personal interest, teaching style, and a self-assessment of personality … introverted/extroverted).
Bethany: And I execute a parallel process extracting data from the mentee applications and compiling it into a mentee summary form. The data is the same as for mentors except areas of expertise turn into areas of desired specialization and “teaching style” becomes “learning style.”
Dan: Then we get together, compare the data on the summary forms, and make the pairings.
Bethany: Then we build suspense by NOT announcing the pairings until the first meeting. We invite all the mentors and mentees (“M&M’s” for short) to a kickoff meeting centering on an ice-breaking activity that introduces them.
Bethany: The key function of the kickoff meeting, other than introducing the M&M’s and having fun, is for the M&M’s to chart their course for the year. It’s important this planning happen right up front, so we allow time for the mentors and mentees to complete their forms.
Dan: The form is a template for establishing mutual objectives, identifying activities to achieve those objectives, and arranging a mutually convenient schedule for meeting.
Dan: So, what are some typical activities in a mentoring relationship? That varies considerably. In each of my 5 mentoring relationships, the process has unfolded quite differently.
Bethany: For example, in last year’s mentoring program, Rachael and Erika paired up on STC projects; Zack and W.C. met at Panera Bread where W.C. provided insight into “Corporate America” as well as strategies for job placement; and Jessica job-shadowed Deborah. As to Dan and me, well we mostly sent e-mails …
Dan: Yeah, I guess we set some records for longest e-mail threads, maintenance of separate concurrent e-mail threads on different topics, number of e-mails in a single hour, etc. But we had reason to. As it turns out, we’re both work-a-holic perfectionists.
Bethany: Yeah. You’re nuts. Until this year, I was fine. Now, thanks to your mentoring, I’m nuts too.
Dan: Mission accomplished.
Bethany: For more normal mentor/mentee pairs who are not co-dependent workaholic perfectionists, we suggest a more reasonable slate of activities. As an integral part of our kickoff meeting, we “prime the pump” with the M&M’s by suggesting several possibilities concerning activities and mutual projects they may wish to pursue.
[After giving the audience a moment to digest this slide, FLIP TO 28.]
[Let audience read.]
Bethany: This list is by no means exhaustive, but you get the idea. It’s helpful to offer some suggestions … once you do that, the M&M’s pretty much take it from there …
Dan: IF they’re normal.
Bethany: Yes, if they’re normal. We even had a competition for the best M&M project. First to complete their project won a special coffee mug.
Bethany: The tools are available in multiple media, including the printed guidebook and the accompanying DVD, which we will be glad to mail you. Materials are also available on the STC-Orlando website and will be posted on the resources page for STC’s CAC.
Bethany: We are excited about the potential that mentoring programs offer for STC professionals and student members, and if you share that enthusiasm, we are here to help you. Just drop us a line!
Dan: We’ll be glad to answer any questions at the appropriate time in this session.
Bethany: Also, free to contact us at any time after the conference.
Student Mentoring Programs:
How to Make Them Happen
Dan Voss & Bethany Bowles
Pre-CPTSC Conference Workshop
September 27, 2012
What is mentoring?
Types of mentoring
What do you do?
Ingredients of a successful mentoring program
3 Types of Mentoring
1. Within industry: pairing
practitioner with an
entry-level member of
2. Within academe: pairing
a faculty member with a
3. Pairing a professional
practitioner with a
Student Outreach Initiative
Mentoring is a Key Ingredient
STC Community Affairs Committee (CAC)
Individual Mentoring Relationships:
Face to Face
STC’s Academic SIG is working on two types of virtual mentoring
programs for the 2012-2013 academic year:
1. Pairing professionals in the Academic SIG with student STC
members in “general” virtual mentoring relationships
2. Pairing SMEs in SIGs with student STC members on academic
assignments involving research/writing for the technical
communication Body of Knowledge (BOK).
Both types of virtual partnerships will likely be administered via
MentorBoard software currently being explored by the STC Office.
Combine equal proportions of
mentees and mentors
Season with guidelines and
turnkey administrative tools
Bake for one academic year
Garnish with job placement
STC guidelines for mentoring
Specific program guidelines and
Summary of successful programs
M&M summary form (for making
M&M agreement form (goals,
Suggested M&M activities and
… and MORE!
Resume and portfolio assessment, interviewing
Jungle training for corporate America
“Reverse” mentoring (mentee teaches mentor)
… happens a lot!
Update the mentee’s résumé to present his/her abilities and
experience to future employers; conduct a mock job interview
Work together to create a portfolio for the mentee to use when job-
Arrange a job-shadowing visit for the mentee to learn more about
Post what projects you are up to on the Facebook page to share
Review a technical book or guide for newsletter
Preview the upcoming STC annual conference by highlighting a
presentation being done by local members
Suggested M&M Activities
Write a short review of one or more web sites that would interest or
Create a short, engaging article that teaches a grammar and/or
mechanics point – creative formatting encouraged!
Join an STC SIG in an area of mutual interest and participate in a SIG-
related project together.
Use the social media (e.g., IM, texting, Facebook, Skype, or even
asynchronous color-coded “e-mail ping-pong”*) to engage in some real-
time “chats” from time to time to get to know each other better and
Suggested M&M Activities (cont)
STC guidelines for mentoring programs
Specific program guidelines and procedures
History of successful mentoring programs
Mentor/mentee(M&M) application forms
M&M summary forms (for making pairings)
M&M agreement form (goals, objectives, activities)
Suggested M&M activities and projects
M&M contact log
Link to typical M&M Facebook page
M&M pre-assessment forms
M&M post-assessment forms
M&M program evaluation form