Orange County Branch Newsletter
ASCE OC Mentorship Program Year in Review
By: Trent Casillas
ASCE OC Branch and ASCE OC YMF launched the inaugural ASCE OC mentorship program in May 2014. The mentorship planning committee, consisting of OC branch and OC YMF members, has worked diligently to create a clear vision for the program in order to establish its long-term growth and development. The guidelines for being a protégé consisted of having less than 10 years of work experience and to be a mentor required over 10 years of experience. The mentorship program received over 50 applications last year and the applicant field was full of highly qualified engineer principals at many notable Orange County civil engineering companies and a sound- group of protégés whose experience ranged from entry level engineers to senior staff level.
The planning committee chose 28 participants based upon engineering career discipline, development interests, and personality. The participants were then invited to a Speed Interview event in October 2014 to identify who their mentor/protégé preferences. After the committee assessed the participants’ preference, development interests, and career discipline to select the pairs to launch the inaugural program at the Mentorship Kickoff event. At the Mentorship Kickoff Event, the pairs prepared a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining goals and expectations. The planning committee laid a presentation of topics for the future meetings such as Career Planning and Life Goals, Reviewing Strengths and Career Gap Assessments, and developing an Individual Development Plan.
The program has sent out a monthly check in email since December 2014 highlighting potential OC Branch and YMF events for the mentors and protégés to connect. The email provides feedback in order to tailor the program to the participants as it progresses throughout the year. The mentor/ protégé pairs have attended many different events together collectively ranging from ASCE events such as the Speaker Series and ASCE technical events to office visits and dinner and lunches in Orange County.
In April 2015, the program put on a successful Mid-Year Check in event that gave the participants a chance to share with the committee what successes and recommendations they had for the program. The program was unanimously recognized as successful in providing support and guidance for the protégés and giving the mentors an outlet to share their lessons learned. Additionally, the mentors were able to change their initial perspectives on the work environment and even learn some lessons from the protégés. Some of the partnerships have developed lasting friendships that have grown past the initial outlook of the program. The participants appreciated the flexibility of the program to allow pairs to move at their own pace or at the provided timeline from the committee.
“I have gained a fresh perspective on my professional goals and trajectory, been able to discuss, some topics that cannot openly discuss with my colleagues or seniors positions at my company.”
“[My mentor] has great insights into the industry and offers a valuable perspective on industry trends and organizations”
“He has helped give me some insight into how public agencies work, and I’ve been coaching him on how to evaluate and plan for starting a business in the engineering and construction field. I think this is a positive experience and a great program. If other professions had mentoring programs like this, I think the nation would benefit as a whole”
Looking to the rest of the year, the committee is currently planning a summer event to get the participants together for a fun informal event around mid-August. Additionally, the committee is planning the Closing Mentorship Banquet in order to thank the participants for all their feedback and contributions to the inaugural year of ASCE OC Mentorship program.
The application process for next year’s program will be launching in July 2015. The committee is working on expanding the program to allow 20 pairs of mentors and protégés and initiate a company sponsorship program. The mentorship program is seeing positive results from the 14 pairs and has established a strong logistical foundation that will continue to provide life-long benefits to the next 20 pairs selected within our membership. The committee sees company sponsorship as a very important factor to sustain the program long term for years to come and provide a great outlet to younger and more experienced engineers, as well as a an outstanding way to support the transfer in knowledge within our civil engineering community.