Years ago, I walked into a bar in Montreal, Canada while at a District conference. Sitting on a stool near me was a well-known ITE International past president. (This sounds like the makings of a joke doesn’t it?) I had never been introduced to this individual before but they seemingly knew of me. Like a scene out of The Godfather, I was summoned with a hand wave. After making my way over, the person spoke slowly and simply stated, “I heard that you are all about encouraging our young members to participate in ITE.” I responded, “Yes, that is true.” His only response was, “Keep it up. It’s the correct thing to do.” And that was it. I was dismissed after that short exchange. The acknowledgment and encouragement by this well-known past president, however, has never left me.

There are many forms of mentorship. It is often something that professional associations and learned societies do for members. For mentors, it is a way to give back to their profession, provide lessons learned, welcome those new to the industry, and use a common platform for sharing information. For mentees, it is a way to gain knowledge, find career motivation, get exposure to industry leaders, and receive career and personal guidance.

Psychologists believe this type of teaching is universal. It is steeped in our history, originally as hunter gatherers, and believed to be “built” into our human genome as a means to passing along essential information to the next generation. Mentoring places a high value on individual autonomy and sharing, and avoids directly intervening in the behavior of another. It’s also clear that, cognitively, teaching occurs in both the teacher as well as the student. In short, the ability to mentor and to be a mentee is genetically coded in all of us.

In this month’s edition of ITE Journal, you will read about the Matson-Hammond Mentorship Program, established last year, with 160 individuals in the roster, and 75 completed and ongoing relationships to its credit. One of these relationships is profiled on page 18. An online registration tool allows you to tailor the mentorship experience to meet your needs with some of the following customizable elements:
• Area of interest – Mentoring on soft skills, technical roles, resumes and interviews, work-life balance, and continuing education, are some of the options.
• Length of relationship – Short (0–6 months) for task-based mentoring all the way to long term (2+ years).
Preferred type of interaction – At meetings, in person, over the phone, via email, or Skype. Location of mentor/mentee – You can search for a mentor or mentee from the same ITE District, multiple Districts, or all Districts.
• Industry of choice – Private, education, policymaker, public agency, or vendor.
• Preferred years of experience – Your mentor may be someone close to you in age or with more experience in the industry.

All of us have an intrinsic need to share and improve upon something we know and enjoy. Ultimately, mentorship is about inspiring others. ITE is the perfect place to do this. Hint: We currently have many more mentors than mentees in the program. Spread the word as this is an exceptionally good problem for any organization to have. Congratulations on the success of the Matson-Hammond Mentorship Program in its short history of existence.

This blog post is from the President's Message in the September 2019 issue of ITE Journal