In today’s program, potential protégés are given training in determining their objectives and setting their desired goals for the partnership. The application process is now more detailed, placing a greater emphasis on the goals and objectives of the protégé. Part of the pairing process now consists of seeking specific mentors who possess the skills and knowledge necessary to help the protégés meet their goals and objectives.
A student employee working at the USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) applied to the USGS Mentoring Program. With the understanding that simply having a mentor would not guarantee her a permanent position, she focused her goals on personal and professional development. She applied to the program hoping to find a mentor who could help her to improve research skills, formulate new ideas, and learn how to put projects in motion while increasing knowledge about the USGS in general. This particular protégé also noted that she wanted to be paired with a mentor that might help her to achieve her long-term career goal of someday working for the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO).
Using all available resources, the USGS Mentoring Program sought and found a mentor for her at the USGS-CVO who was committed to making the partnership a success. Before this mentor and protégé met face to face, they had several phone conversations, exchanged many emails and the mentor arranged for his protégé to meet several other CVO scientists while on her 2-day shadowing assignment. This mentor provided excellent coaching and created an opportunity for his protégé to rejoin CVO during the summer. The Mentoring Program fully supported their endeavors and agreed to help them however possible. The protégé completed a month-long internship at CVO where she had the opportunity to learn about the work that is done there while helping with research projects. She spent 2 weeks on Mount St. Helens collecting samples while there. This protégé worked with another lead scientist repeating a self-potential survey from 2001 in an attempt to determine how the hydrological structure of the volcano has changed since the recent 2004 eruption.
My protégé and I have been in frequent contact. FYI, we've decided to have him do his shadowing at this year's Office of Surface Water Technical Review of the North Dakota Water Science Center in July. This review is significant since we will be reviewing the surface water record from last year's (2009) and this year's historic flooding on the Red R. of the North. It will be an excellent and positive experience for him. He has huge potential for the USGS.
Thanks for the opportunity.
The most dramatic changes for me have been being more organized and in documenting information. To make meetings on time, be prepared for those meetings, and be able to properly answer questions that came up, I needed to improve these two skill sets for myself. I have noticed that these skills have expanded beyond this program and overflowed into my daily activities as well. I now have more information accessible at my fingertips or electronically than before. I actually use my calendar now, as well as a weekly suspense log for pending action items. Documentation was beneficial to continued progress in this program and aiding my memory between meetings. Learning what to document and how best to document that info was crucial. Just keeping loads of info is not as useful as keeping pertinent info so that it can be quickly retrieved when needed. Part of this new found documentation skill has been an improved electronic filing and retrieval system that is shared between the financial staff on the team. I also started keeping minutes of meetings/phone conversations. These became very helpful in remembering what action items were still outstanding and who had taken lead on those actions.
Participating in this program increased my confidence and improved by EQ. I tend to gravitate to a leadership role wherever I work, but this past year helped secure my confidence that I can be a useful leader. I have always known that the little things often mean the most to staff. I have noticed that I make time now to get out of my office to check in with others, to follow up with people and not just on work assignments. This small act has helped staff to feel more comfortable in the office and around other supervisors. I have also put my new-found confidence to work and applied to upgrade my professional administrative certification to include leadership, project management, and strategic planning this coming May. Once complete, I plan to register in the fall to return to school and complete my Master’s degree for an MBA with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership. The bond will continue beyond the end of this program. Thanks to all for the opportunity to participate!
Our partnership continues to be very valuable. I demonstrated the beach health application that I work on to a group of his colleagues on a Webex. They offered some good suggestions for changes. He helped me with some information to include on a GLRI proposal that I was working with a customer on. He's also been very helpful giving scientific advice on various water quality tests, procedures and correcting the data in my database. I will be contacting him in a few weeks to get advice on the project I will be going to Turkey for, as it relates to water quality issues. He has asked me to be a reviewer on articles that he receives related to my area of expertise. So thank you again for this program.