SLA NY’s Chapter President Marcy Winkler wrote in the previous issue of B2E that one of her goals for this year “is to create an environment where all SLA NY members are open to learning from each other.” The SLA NY Colleague Connection Committee (formerly The Mentorship Committee) – consisting of Donna Severino (Chair), Zachary Leader, Linda Ronan, and the authors – has heeded that call to action as we implement new approaches to our program, making it more beneficial to all members.
Short-term, we are looking at a two-pronged approach to what we can offer our members: a new one-on-one program called The Colleague Connection and a more flexible way to connect via Power Networking. These are designed to offer new opportunities for members to connect, no matter if you are a student, just starting your career, or a veteran in the field. There is always room to learn from your colleagues and we hope to provide the structure and support to make it happen. Our long-term goals include creating an online space for connecting with members and a robust student program based on internships at local companies and institutions.
Program Launch: The Colleague Connection
In our informal surveys, participants in the traditional Mentor/Mentee program were highly complimentary of the experience (see our mentor and mentee testimonials). Unfortunately, Mentor recruitment has been a struggle, so we wanted to take away some of the perceived barriers by removing the labels and formality of the program. We also wanted to encourage our membership to connect on a peer-to-peer level by putting a more inclusive program in place. We truly believe that when our diverse members interact with each other, professional and personal lives are enriched on both sides.
In launching The Colleague Connection, we look back at past Mentor recruitment efforts and strive to break down any barriers preventing chapter members from benefitting from the relaxed, all-inclusive program we envision. We find three primary misconceptions about mentorship:
- It is too time-consuming. Though there is certainly a time commitment involved, it is actually quite nominal and there are many rewards to be gained by spending a little bit of time emailing, talking on the phone, or meeting in person with your colleague.
- It is too involved. Again, there is some involvement from both parties, but each relationship is unique and flexible. The Colleague Connection provides new opportunities for a flow of ideas and questions without the pressure of providing required guidance as in a traditional Mentor/Mentee relationship. It is up to you whether this relationship leads to a get-together over coffee, a friendly face at other events, or a stronger professional relationship. The Colleague Connection will provide the means to help you connect in a manner that is comfortable for you.
- You need to be at a certain career level or have X number of years experience. We all bring varied professional experiences and insights to the table which can benefit a colleague. Any member can provide perspective on career opportunities, give suggestions for professional development, or act as a sounding board – none of it is dependent on your job title. The Colleague Connection relationship is about discussions not resumes.
We are hoping that our new program will make these misconceptions a thing of the past. Our aim is to put less pressure on chapter members interested in connecting and emphasize a more relaxed relationship. The Colleague Connection will be a great way to get to know your fellow SLA NY members. Some of the benefits of participating in the program include:
- A chance to meet colleagues in different industries outside of normal chapter events and learn what their jobs are like.
- The opportunity to discuss your career with a connection outside of work and family.
- Prospects to enhance your professional reputation and strengthen your network.
- An overall satisfying and inspiring experience.
- Plus, you’ll always have someone to talk to at chapter events!
In addition to The Colleague Connection, we will be co-hosting a few happy hour events this year to feature Power Networking activities. These will be fun, informal gatherings perfect for those who may need a gentle push to start networking or for members who want to try out the mentoring dynamic without much commitment.
After a successful speed-mentoring event at the 2014 SLA NY Conference and Expo, our Committee has chosen this model to help introduce people to each other and potentially make lasting connections. In addition to meeting your fellow chapter members, you may even be enticed to get more involved with The Colleague Connection. Our inaugural event will take place on May 7, 2015. Please be on the lookout for registration details in the coming weeks. We would like to thank Sheila Bergen for her assistance in helping launch this first Power Networking event.
Mentor and Mentee Testimonials
Educause. “Mentoring: The Decision to Mentor.” Career Development: Educause, n.d. [Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/careers/special-topic-programs/mentoring]
Faber, C. “What motivates mentors and why you should reach out.” Career Advice: Levo League, July 17, 2013. [Retrieved from http://www.levo.com/articles/career-advice/what-motivates-mentors]
Garringer, M. Effective mentor recruitment: getting organized, getting results. Mentoring Resource Center, 2006. [Retrieved from http://educationnorthwest.org/sites/default/files/recruitment.pdf]
Philips-Jones, L. “Reasons to be a mentor.” The Mentoring Group, 2003. [Retrieved from: http://www.mentoringgroup.com/html/articles/mentor_1.html]