Cindy Simpson, CAE
Cindy Simpson, CAE, is manager of member services at the National Society for Histotechnology.
Engaging student members through mentoring is an effective way to help them get to know the organization better while establishing a mutually beneficial professional connection that can last for years.
Research shows that mentoring is an important component of career success. Developing effective mentoring relationships can influence career progression and opportunities. An increasing number of associations are enhancing their efforts to facilitate mentoring for their student members as a way to both introduce them to the organization and provide them with opportunities for engagement.
Successful mentoring relationships have a few elements in common. Here are three key factors that need to be present for an effective mentoring experience.
Introspection. Although possibly painful at times, looking inward is a necessary and vital part of a student’s journey through life and career. Understanding what the student hopes to gain from a mentor will assist them in finding the right person to address their specific needs, which can be identified through introspection. Associations can assist students in this process by providing them with questions for consideration as students determine their goals and objectives.
Identification. Mentors are important for a number of reasons. Mentors can help students to enhance their skills and abilities in specific areas. They can also help them identify their strengths and weaknesses and provide guidance as they work to address areas where they need to grow. Mentors can also open doors to career opportunities. Associations can play a key role in providing programs designed to address the student’s professional development needs as identified during the mentoring process.
Interactions. Mentoring relationships work best when ground rules are established regarding what will be discussed during each meeting and the frequency and type of interactions (in person, phone or video calls, or email or text messaging updates). Understanding what both the mentor and student will receive from the relationship will make it much more beneficial and meaningful. Periodic check-ins by the association, as part of the facilitation role, can help keep the mentoring relationship on track.
Associations are enhancing their efforts to facilitate mentoring for their student members as a way to both introduce them to the organization and provide them with opportunities for engagement.
Mentors and students may elect to remain in touch and eventually come to recognize each other as peers and colleagues, particularly when attending the association’s national, regional, or local meetings. When mentoring is successful, both parties benefit and students realize the value of membership in their association. As students advance in their careers, they will continue to pass down the lessons they learned to others.
Mentoring is a continuous cycle that allows mentees to one day reap the rewards of serving as mentors—a gratifying way to positively impact the next generation of members.