Mentoring Committee The purpose of the Mentoring Committee is to connect student planners with practicing planners in order to a) develop the next generation of planners by exposing student planners to the networks and wisdom of practicing planners and b) redevelop/reinvigorate the current generation of planners by exposing them to the cutting-edge research, technologies, and theories student planners know. The work of the Mentoring Committee is split between maintaining a database of mentors, which student planners can access to connect with a mentor, and promoting the program to student planners in multiple ways.
Committee Members Bob Zimmerer, Chair/Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) Michael Mays, Past Chair/Coordinator (email@example.com)
2011 Committee Goals o o
Improve/Update Webpage/Website to Allow for More “Openness” Increase Participation of Student Planners o Continue Existing Outreach/Promotion Efforts @ UIC o Continue Building Awareness @ UIUC Increase Diversity (Background, Experience, + Field/Focus) of Mentors o Collaborate w/ Sections (Chicago Metro + Illinois State) & w/ Young Planners Group o Collaborate w/ Illinois-Fellows of AICP
2011 Committee Activity Reports March 4, 2011 o The Mentoring Committee collaborated with the Chicago Metro Section (CMS), the Young Planners Group (YPG), and the Urban Planning & Policy Student Association (UPPSA) @ UIC to put together a networking event at Jak’s Tap in late January. The event was well received and attended by planners of all ages, experience-levels, and backgrounds. The 64 attendees, and 9 organizers, seemed to enjoy the casual atmosphere, informal discussion topics, and “forced” intermingling. This was a great opportunity for all four committees/sub-groups of APA-IL to promote themselves and generate interest in not only their particular causes but also planning in general. o The Mentoring Committee also began to think about its goals and objectives for the coming year(s) – especially in relation to how to be more “open” when it comes to mentorees. May 6, 2011 o Aside from “the usual” (i.e. helping interested students find a mentor), the Committee began preparations to provide an overview of itself and the Mentoring Program at the July meeting of the APA-IL Executive Board/Committee. July 8, 2011 o Aside from “the usual” (i.e. helping interested students find a mentor), the Committee prepared an overview of itself and the Mentoring Program to present to the APA-IL Executive Board/Committee in July. o The Committee also began thinking of ways to restructure itself and of a succession plan for its leadership given the desire of both co-chairs to be less involved with the Committee/Program during the upcoming school year.
Memo To: Cc: From: Date: Re:
President Kowalski, AICP & Members of the Executive Board/Committee John H. Paige, AICP (Administrator) Bob Zimmerer (Mentoring Program Co-Coordinator) Wednesday, June 29, 2011 Overview of Mentoring Program
At recent meetings of the Executive Board/Committee (Committee), the Committee indicated a desire to know more about the Mentoring Program (Program) – e.g. how does the program work, how much involvement is there, how have students reacted, etc.? Thus, I would like to address that desire via this memorandum as well as via a follow-up discussion at the Committee’s next meeting on July 8, 2011. The Current Program The attached PowerPoint®-presentation, which I created for a visit to UIUC last fall, provides a nice overview of the Program. To summarize, the Program is a way for students (who are members of the APA) to get in touch with practicing planners (who are members of the APA-IL and also known as mentors) at a level of commitment they are comfortable with – from a relationship of just occasional electronic communication to a full-blown friendship. APA-IL’s involvement in these relationships is limited to introductions – i.e. helping mentors and students meet, which Michael Mays (the other Mentoring Program Co-Coordinator) and I do by a) maintaining a website (Yahoo!®group) and a database of mentors’ profiles, b) communicating with mentors and interested students, and c) spreading the word about the Program at various studentrun events. At present, there are 60 mentors and 25 students participating in the Program, which means that 35 mentors are “idle” in that they are not mentoring a student. However, based on informal conversations with a number of mentors, others are participating outside of the Program. Successes & Challenges For those students who participate in the Program, reaction has been positive. The attached document entitled “Mentoring Program Testimonials” provides the perspectives of two students who recently participated in the Program. Another success has been our outreach efforts as of late. Traditionally, Michael spent one-third of his time outreaching to students, one-third of his time communicating with mentors and students, and one-third of his time maintaining the website and database. However, since I joined Michael and the two of us have been working together, we have been able to increase the amount of time we spend outreaching to students. For
Memo RE Overview of Mentoring Program
June 29, 2011
instance, during this past school year, the two of us attended and presented at four events (as opposed to one or two) and we visited UIUC for the first time. Moreover, we worked with the Chicago Metro Section, the (APA-IL) Young Planners Group, and the UPPSA (the student organization at UIC) for a mass mentoring/networking event, which allowed us to help mentors and students meet in-person. Despite the positive experiences of past participants, which we have shared with current students, and our greatly increased outreach efforts, from what we can ascertain, additional student interest has reached a plateau. We attribute this to a few factors. First, students are busier than ever – especially in the current economic situation where many students are pursuing other efforts at the same time they pursue their studies. (Moreover, there are also a lot more part-time planning-students these days.) Second, the CUPPA at UIC recently started its own mentoring program. Finally, and probably the most significant, there are mentor-student relationships forming outside of the Program. We believe this is due to a desire of students (an increasing amount of whom are non-planning students and therefore not members of the APA) to seek “unofficial” mentors who are in roles where APA-membership is not common – i.e. typically not paid for. Such “unofficial” mentors include planners, though frequently not in title, at the City of Chicago, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, various transportation and housing agencies throughout the state, and at various not-for-profit organizations throughout the state – such as the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Active Transportation Alliance. The Next Level Given all the above, we believe there are three steps we can implement to overcome the challenges we face and take the Program to the next level, all of which interrelate. First, designate a few “Ambassadors” for the Program. These “ambassadors” would be people who can advocate the Program and attend multiple events at UIC, UIUC, and at other universities, colleges, and organizations. Second, grow the pool (i.e. diversity) of the mentors – especially the number that are in non-traditional planning roles. Finally, the website and database should be more automated and open so that interested students can search for a mentor on their own time – as opposed to being dependent upon Michael or me. Notably, the Executive Committee can help us implement these steps by allowing us to do the following: a. Make the process for interested students be more open (i.e. let students contact mentors directly), b. Recommend and/or help us find potential “Ambassadors,” c. Open up the Program to recent graduates who are APA members, d. Open up the Program to non-APA members, and e. Use the APA-IL’s Editor/Webmaster to help us reconfigure the Program’s website and database to allow for “a” and “d.” I look forward to answering any questions you, or any member of the Committee may have, during the discussion on this matter at the Committee’s upcoming meeting.
Memo RE Overview of Mentoring Program Attachments 1. PowerPoint® Presentation Entitled “APA-IL Mentoring Program” o Given @ UIUC on Friday, November 12, 2010 2. APA-IL Mentoring Program Testimonials o Dated November 2010
June 29, 2011
What? • A way for students to get in touch with practicing planners. • Mentors can help students with their academic studies and/or their future – whether that future includes further academic studies or a career • For example, mentors can… • be someone to bounce ideas off of • improve/tweak a résumé before it is sent out • make sure you are going in the right direction • classes; specializations; thesis; etc.
• Have you ever wished that you could talk to your future-self? • The goal of the program is to offer students access to those who have “been there before.”
Why? • You are in charge! • Students and mentors determine the level of commitment upfront. • an occasional meeting for coffee • a one-time visit to the mentor’s place of employment • a strictly remote relationship (email; phone; etc.)
• The website allows students to view mentors’ profiles 24/7. • Students can sign up at any time – today, tomorrow, next month, next semester, even next year. • Currently, there are profiles of 60 mentors on the website.
Who? • The program is open to any student-planner @ UIC or UIUC who is a member of the American Planning Association (APA). • i.e. undergraduate and graduate students @ CUPPA & DURP
Testimonials • Common Themes • Students appreciate having someone… • act as a sounding board • to run their résumé past • give interview and hiring advice • who can connect them with others in the field that have specialized backgrounds or work in non-traditional planning-fields (i.e. other than in government or for a consultant)
How? 1. Visit the program’s website, which is a Yahoo!®-group, and click “Join This Group!” (APA ID#) •
2. Wait to receive an email entitled “Request to join apail_mentoring approved.” 3. Peruse the mentors’ profiles under the “File” link/section. 4. Send an email with one or more potential mentors to the Mentoring Program Coordinator. 5. Once the coordinator ensures the potential mentor is available, the coordinator will provide the mentor’s contact information. 6. Contact your new mentor! 7. Every now and then, let the coordinator know what you think about the program.
APA Membership • For first-year graduate students and third-year undergraduate students in a program accredited by the PAB (UIC & UIUC)… • free membership for first year for first-time members
• Otherwise… • $57/year for full-time students w/ a mailing address in Illinois
• If your mailing address is in the State of Illinois, then you automatically have to become a member of the Illinois Chapter of the APA (APA-IL) – even if you don’t want to be☺.
Final Thoughts • One of the things that separate a good planner from a great one is that great planners had someone at their workplace “take them under their wings” early in their career. • Students can also mentor their mentors! • “Each of us should be following someone, serving along side someone, and leading someone.” - Dr. Kenneth R. Board | Pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church (Rockford)
• Upcoming Event (January/February 2011 | Date TBD) • Chicago Metro Section of APA-IL • APA-IL Young Planners Group • APA-IL Mentoring Program
Questions (& Answers) • Bob Zimmerer (Village of Roselle) • firstname.lastname@example.org
• Michael Mays (Village of Woodridge) • email@example.com
Mentoring Program Testimonials Testimonial #1: UIC MUPP Graduate – Class of 2010 (from November 2010) I joined the APA mentorship program in my first year and am still meeting with my mentor now that I have graduated. Having previously worked in municipal planning, I chose a suburban Planning Director as my mentor so that I could stay in touch with the municipal field and see how it works in Illinois. I arranged meetings with my mentor, going out to Glen Ellyn about once a quarter. You can meet and e-mail frequently, or less frequently like we did. I go out after work and we get food and a glass of wine and catch up on what we are each up to. I have enjoyed time with my mentor on a personal and professional level, seeing how she balances a management position and family. She provided perspective on class and extracurricular choices, giving feedback as to what is needed and desired in the municipal environment. However, her advice was often limited since she is not familiar with UIC and its program and has not been in school for some time. I believe that her feedback will be the most useful in the time to come as she provides advice and connections during the beginning of my professional career in Illinois. The program works best when expectations are clear and the mentee is patient. The student should also think about what they can bring to the relationship. Professionals enjoy a connection with the younger generation and new theories/technologies in the field. I told my mentor about what was going on at UIC and what we do in the program and got her involved in the internship program for the first time. Testimonial #2: UIC MUPP Graduate – Class of 2011 (from November 2010) As a first-year planning student with no planning experience, I was excited by all that I was learning, but felt like I didn’t really know what planners actually did in their day-today jobs. While my professors were great resources about topics in planning, they were mostly academics and far removed from the challenges faced by practitioners. Guest lecturers gave a glimpse into what I could look forward to, but an hour or two in a class was just too short to really get into much detail, and I had so many questions! I love that the APA-IL mentor program gave me the opportunity to choose the mentor that was right for me. I was able to look through resumes of new and seasoned professionals to find those that had the kind of experience that reflected my own career ambitions. While my goal is to become a municipal planner, seeing the wide range of experience encouraged me to consider other career options that I had not even known exist, particularly in the private sector.
Once I’d had my top 3 choices, I wasn’t really sure where to go next – what do you say to a complete stranger I chose off of the internet?!? Fortunately, my mentor was great! He contacted me and suggested that we start with phone conversation about what I wanted from this experience. From there, I was invited out to his office and had the opportunity to hear from him and his staff about their jobs, their everyday responsibilities and the challenges they face. We’ve continued our conversations by email about topics that come up in class and internship opportunities. It’s also been great to know when he will be at APA events – it always helps to know someone to connect with and get introduced to other planners, instead of facing a room of strangers by myself. I’ve loved my time with my mentor and intend to keep in touch well after our year in the mentorship program is over.