Published May 14, 2015
When students come to UB, they’re assigned an adviser who can help answer questions about their studies or the university in general. But what about new staff hires?
That’s where the Professional Staff Senate’s Mentoring Program comes in. The program has been around for about 15 years. But under new committee chair Joe Mantione, it’s undergoing several changes to better serve mentors and protégés.
Among the biggest changes, the committee now recruits mentors before protégés. It used to be the other way around, but Frank Ciccia, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Organization and Human Resources, School of Management, recommended building up the list of mentors. “His input was very helpful. After that, everything else just fell into place,” says Mantione.
In addition, after mentors and mentees are paired up, they have a six-week period of getting to know one another before deciding whether to keep the relationship or part ways.
Here’s how the process works: Mentors get to see the resumes (names and other identifying information are blacked out) of the pool of protégés and select a few who they’d be interested in mentoring. Protégés then see the mentor’s resume and decide whether that mentor will be a good fit for them. “If they agree they want to meet, we facilitate the meeting,” Mantione says. “Until that first meeting, they don’t see or communicate with each other.”
At that initial meeting, the mentees outline their goals and what they hope to obtain from the partnership. Over the next several weeks, they’re encouraged to meet as often as they’d like. “It’s a low-risk opportunity to feel each other out,” Mantione explains.
There’s also more accountability with the program now. PSS Mentor Committee members check in with protégés every few months. At the end of the academic year, committee members meet with mentees to learn whether they’ve addressed the goals they defined at their first meeting with their mentor. If it’s working, protégés can stay with their mentor; if it isn’t, they can request a new one. Or, if they feel they got what they needed from the mentorship, they can “graduate” from the program and move on.
The program has approximately two-dozen pairs, with a few more in the pipeline. Mentees generally are between the ages of 25 and 35, and have been at UB two to five years, while mentors tend to have 15 to 20 years of service at the university, Mantione says.
The program’s benefits are plentiful. “They get to connect with people outside their own organization,” says Mantione, whose own career at UB spans 30 years. He is currently an assistant vice provost for institutional analysis.
“It helps them become good UB citizens,” adds Ann Marie Landel, outgoing PSS chair.
Former protégé Troy Joseph, admissions technology coordinator in the Office of Admissions at SUNY Plattsburgh, notes he received valuable professional, organizational and communication skills — “all gained through comfortable, trusting interactions with my mentor.”
“It has been an indispensable experience and reward that has helped me grow personally and professionally,” he says.
The committee created a five-minute informational presentation that can be given during office staff meetings. “Supervisors should definitely support this program,” Landel says.
For more information on the PSS Mentor Program, visit the program’s website.