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Mentorship

Chi Epsilon group photo spring 2021

Mentorship has countless benefits for both mentors and mentees, including increased confidence, knowledge reinforcement, goal setting, networking, leadership and skill development. All South Dakota State University civil and environmental engineering (SDSU CEE) students have access to a professional mentorship program administered through Chi Epsilon Honor Society with support from the department's industry advisory board (IAB). Students who register are paired with a working engineer in the field they are interested in pursuing. All students are welcome and encouraged to participate in the program.  

Potential Mentors: Do you want to help a current SDSU CEE student build their confidence and understanding of the industry? Currently, we are seeking working civil engineering graduates to register for the Fall 2021 semester mentorship program, which will launch in August. Use the link below learn more about the program and to register! 

 

Mentors and mentees register here.

Please email sdstate.ceementoring@gmail.com for more information.


Program Information

Mentoring is one way to help students achieve their educational, professional and personal goals. Serving as a mentor helps students negotiate various professional and personal challenges, as well as assist with career success. Being a mentee provides an opportunity to learn about CEE careers and develop a relationship with a working engineer. The ways in which participants impact each other are immeasurable and the benefits will have an impact for years to come.

In 2020, COVID-19 altered the way students were being taught with virtual and limited in-class learning and connections with fellow students, professors and the engineering community were hindered. The CEE IAB recognized the need to assist CEE students during their time at SDSU. Developing a simple mentoring program brings CEE practitioners (mentors) and students (mentees) together and fosters a meaningful relationship that will benefit both the mentors and mentees. 

Program Guidelines and other information can be viewed below.

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

The CEE Mentoring Program exists to provide students with professional guidance and support throughout their time at SDSU. Mentoring is an initial step toward future career growth and is intended to provide the foundation for a rewarding and continuously developing career.

Specific objectives of the program include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Promote effective interaction with colleagues and an internal network of support
  • Assist with development of leadership and management skills
  • Assist with transition from student to first job
  • Enhance the development of specific technical skills
  • Assist with career guidance and various skillset trainings
  • Help with identification of specific interests for short-term and long-term career goals
  • Provide a confidential environment in which guidance for resolution of difficult situations can occur

The CEE Mentoring Program was introduce in a phased approach in the Spring 2021 semester. The first phase of the mentoring program was conducted with 13 mentors representing IAB and several other civil engineering professionals and 13 mentees involved in the student chapter of Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honor society. Feedback was solicited from the program participants at the conclusion of the semester and refinements made to improve the Mentoring Program. The second phase expanded the mentoring opportunity to all CEE students beginning in the Fall of 2021.

PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS

Any undergraduate or graduate SDSU CEE student is eligible to participate in the mentorship program as a mentee, and any practicing engineer is eligible to participate as a mentor. A member of the IAB and a student representative (student coordinator) are responsible for leading and administering the mentoring program. More details about these roles may be found under "Program Administration".

Mentors and mentees must be willing to commit to the Mentoring Program for a full academic year. All participants are expected to complete the registration form and provide background information including contact information, education, work location, current and past employers and fields of work or interest. This information will be used during the matching process. After a successful match, mentors and mentees are expected to meet once a month at a minimum, but may meet more frequently if both participants agree.

MATCHING PROCESS

The approach to matching mentees and mentors is simple and is driven by the students. All participants will fill out the registration form (the button at the top of the Mentorship landing page) indicating their interests and experience. Once enrolled in the program, the student mentees will have the ability to review the mentor candidate database and select their own mentor. Mentor information visible to mentees includes level of education, years of experience and industry details. After selecting their prospective mentor, the mentee must contact the student coordinator, who will then confirm the match and provide contact information to the mentee. The student mentees are expected to initiate contact with their chosen mentor within seven days of matching. At any time, the mentee or the mentor may chose to end the mentoring relationship. Under guidance from the student and IAB coordinators, a new match may be selected for both participants if desired.

Access the mentor candidate database here

PROGRAM EVALUATION AND MONITORING

In order to ensure that the mentoring program is meeting its objectives, it is important to maintain open communication with all participants and to actively solicit feedback on the results. Feedback will assist current participants in achieving their goals for the program and to improve the mentoring program for future mentors and mentees.

Examples of ways feedback may be gathered include:

  • Student coordinator will follow-up with participants to ensure that mentors and mentees have made initial contact by suggested deadline date.
  • Student coordinator shall conduct periodic group meetings or socials with the mentees and discuss ways to improve the program.
  • Student coordinator shall have all participants complete a program evaluation form at the end of the program. 
PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION

Chi Epsilon members will select the student coordinator responsible for coordination and leading the Mentoring Program. A new student coordinator will be appointed at the end of each fall semester, coinciding with Chi Epsilon officer elections. The retiring student coordinator is expected to be available to help train the new student coordinator during the following spring semester. A member of the IAB will be responsible for finding mentors and providing a pool of practitioners.

The student coordinator is responsible for notifying other CEE students about this mentorship program and encouraging them to sign up. They are also responsible for guiding participants through the enrollment process, including providing participants with all required documents and information. They are also responsible for organizing periodic check-ins with participants, which may be individual or group oriented. The IAB coordinator is responsible for finding mentors to participate in the Mentoring Program and for providing guidance and support to the student coordinator.

Program communication will occur through the CEE Mentoring Gmail account and the CEE department website.

MENTOR GUIDELINES

Thank you for volunteering your time to help build the next generation of CEE professionals. You recognize the responsibility you accepted in choosing to work with students and agree to interact appropriately with your mentee according to the highest ethical standards at all times.

Below are some helpful tips and guidelines for mentors. After enrolling as a mentor, participants will be provided with the complete Mentor Guidelines and Code of Conduct document. In the document, full details about Health and Safety, Activities and Program Rules are available. Mentors will be asked to review and sign this agreement prior to participation in the program.

Role as a Mentor

  • The mentor–mentee relationship has an initial phase. During this phase, the mentee is more interested in getting to know you and how much he/she can trust you. Establish how you can reach your mentee: by text, phone, social media, e-mail, or at a designated meeting location. Establish a time and phone number where you can usually answer calls or make contact. Mentees are expected to make the first contact.
  • To start the conversation, ask your mentee questions and share a little about yourself:
    • Jobs, hobbies and extracurricular activities
    • Research, projects or career‐related accomplishments
    • Ways of balancing work with your personal life
    • Your favorite college course, book, movie, restaurant, etc.
  • Respect the uniqueness and honor the integrity of your mentee and influence him/her through constructive feedback. The mentor empowers the mentee to make right decisions without actually deciding for the mentee. Identify the mentee’s interests and take them seriously. Be alert for opportunities and teaching moments. Explore positive and negative consequences.

Tips to "Be" an Effective Mentor

  • Be there: Commit to mentally “being there” when you are together or when you are communicating with your mentee. Don’t think about other things when you are with your mentee. (Avoid the tendency to think about work, family or personal pressures). This above all else will heavily influence the way your relationship unfolds.
  • Be open: Share about your whole self with your mentee—the personal you, not just the professional you. Tell your mentee about your career path, personal attributes, dreams, personal goals, strengths and include areas of improvement you are working on.
  • Be genuine: Early in the relationship, share information about who you are, family background, how you got to where you are and what is important to you. Be sure to let your mentee know about your challenges as well as your successes. Be real. If they know that you aren’t perfect either, they may be able to relate to you better. Try to break down barriers and bridge gaps early in your relationship by being real.
  • Be supportive: Remember that you are not expected to be a social worker. You are a supportive, encouraging friend.
  • Be professional: Establish a professional tone to your phone calls, email and personal communication. Avoid inappropriate conversations on topics such as sex, religion and politics.
  • Be timely: Respond promptly. Nothing disheartens a mentee more than a non-response. You should discuss with your mentee what to expect in terms of response times. Convey that you will respond within a given time period. This will give your mentee a benchmark and will provide a level of confidence when it comes to communicating. Ask for the same in return.
  • Be aware: Model positive behavior and attitudes. You are a role model for your mentee. Let your mentee know what you feel are the essential skills for success in life.
  • Be adaptive: Be prepared to switch roles—be open to learning from your mentee.
  • Be collaborative: Connect with others who mentor, collaborate with them, share resources and sources of information. You can learn from each other.
  • Be responsive: Resolve problems immediately, follow through on what you say you will do (remember you are role modelling!) and don’t let communications break down.
  • Be happy and have fun! Giving back warms the heart. Make the best of whatever situation you are presented with.

Reminders for effective mentoring

  • Demonstrate interest, helpful intent, and involvement.
  • Establish rapport by learning or remembering personal information about your Mentee.
  • Keep in frequent contact with your mentee. Even a short email or phone call can make a difference.
  • Be available and keep your appointments.
  • Hold your mentee accountable for commitments and goals. Follow up frequently.
  • Consistently evaluate the effectiveness of your mentoring and adjust your style as needed.
  • Be yourself and allow your mentee to do the same.
  • Remember that active listening is one of the most important skills of a good mentor.
MENTEE GUIDELINES

Thank you for taking the initiative in building professional relationships by reaching out to SDSU graduates of the CEE program. You recognize the need to reach out to others and build a community of practicing engineers and agree to interact appropriately with your mentor according to the highest ethical standards at all times.

Below is some background information and helpful tips for mentees. After enrolling as a mentee, participants will be provided with the complete Mentee Guidelines and Code of Conduct document. In the document, full details about Health and Safety, Activities and Program Rules are available. Mentees will be asked to review and sign this agreement prior to participation in the program.

Role as a Mentee

  • The mentor–mentee relationship has an initial phase. Establish how you can reach your mentor: by text, phone, social media, e-mail or at a designated meeting location. Establish a time and phone number where you can usually answer calls or make contact. Mentees are expected to make the first contact.
  • Be prepared for the communications with your mentor. Have several questions to discuss.
  • Keep your commitments. If you schedule a time to talk, do not cancel.
  • Set goals with your mentor. What are your goals for this mentoring relationship? (e.g., gain knowledge in a particular topic area, secure an internship or summer employment, etc.) What challenges can you anticipate?

Tips to "Be" an Effective Mentee

  • Be there: The pressures of school, work and personal life may be overwhelming at times. Learn to recognize your needs and your limits, and commit to being mentally present at meetings with your mentor. The intent of the mentorship is to help you grow as a professional, and an important part of that includes good time management and practicing attentiveness.
  • Be open: While the intent of the mentorship program is to help you develop as a professional, it is encouraged for you to share some of the things that make you who you are! Sharing your hobbies and interests with your mentor may help you break the ice and establish some things in common, which will in turn help develop a stronger and more enriching relationship.
  • Be genuine: One of the great benefits of mentorship is identifying strengths and opportunities. Being honest and transparent during discussion and reflection with your mentor is critical to gaining the most from this process.
  • Be positive: Your mentor is a good person to discuss issues and shortfalls you may be experiencing, but they are just as eager to hear about all the things you are proud of! Be sure to share your "wins" with them, from acing a test to nailing a job interview!
  • Be professional: The mentoring partnership is a great place to start demonstrating professional behavior and learning how professionals interact in the workspace. Avoid controversial topics of discussion such as politics, and if you are unsure, check with your mentor.
  • Be timely: Respond to any communications from your mentor as soon as you are able. If you don't have time for a prolonged conversation when they reach out, let them know that you can't get back to them immediately and set a day and time that you will follow up. Show up to your meetings on time, and if something comes up, let your mentor know as soon as possible.
  • Be proactive: As a participant in the mentorship program, you have already taken the first step in demonstrating your commitment and enthusiasm for the profession. Seize this opportunity to ask your mentor many questions, engage them in discussion and practice goal setting and evaluation.
  • Be thoughtful: Your mentor may be able to help you find solutions to some problems you are having, but you are expected to put some effort in, too! If you approach your mentor for help, first consider the problem you are having and try to come up with a few solutions on your own. Afterwards, reflect with your mentor about the problem-solving process and be mindful of the lessons you can carry forward.
  • Be collaborative: Take advantage of opportunities to interact with other mentees and mentors. Share what has been successful for you and what hasn't. Your experience may help others in their mentorships, and likewise their experiences, may help you steer your mentorship experience.
  • Be responsive: Your mentor is just as busy as you are with work, family, and other engagements. Be respectful by responding to communications in a timely manner and being prepared for each meeting.
  • Be happy and have fun! This program was developed with you, the student and future engineer at the center. The goal is to connect you with a mentor who will celebrate your wins, help you with professional development and guide you as navigate your early career options.
PARTICIPANT REGISTRATION FORM

Please register for the CEE Mentoring Program using the Mentors and Mentees Register Here button above in the initial Mentorship information section. The first question will ask you to indicate whether you are a mentor or a mentee (SDSU student). Depending upon your selection, the remaining questions will vary. Please provide thoughtful and complete answers to each of the questions. Personal information such as name and contact information will never be shared publicly. Mentees will only be shown information such as gender, type of business, area of expertise and level of education when they are making their mentor selection. Contact information for their selected mentor will only be given after the student has selected their mentor.

MENTORING FEEDBACK

Anonymous feedback is welcome at any time during the program duration, but will only be formally requested from all participants at the end of the academic year. Honest and detailed responses are crucial to the continued improvement and expansion of the mentorship program. As such, if participants wish to submit feedback anonymously during the program, they may do so using the form below.