Allison McWillliams is assistant vice president, mentoring and alumni personal & career development. She writes occasional articles for Inside WFU. This is the first for the spring semester. In each, she shares observations and suggestions with faculty and staff from her professional experiences with students.
Mentoring typically is conceived of as a one-to-one relationship. Historically, mentoring relationships developed from the master-apprentice model to the manager-protégé model; in both, potential successors are chosen or “anointed” and provided with all of the tools, knowledge, and skills that they need to eventually replace the master or manager mentor. In this traditional view, the mentor is the expert, the source of all wisdom and experience, and the mentee or protégé is a blank slate, an empty vessel just waiting to be filled up with all of that knowledge and experience.
We no longer think of mentoring in these terms. First, this outdated, paternalistic view of mentoring assumes that mentees have no prior experience, histories, or knowledge. Second, this version of mentoring puts considerable pressure on the mentor to be the “be-all, end-all” person for his or her mentee. And third, due to the inherent power dynamics in any mentoring relationship, it provides no opportunity for mentees to seek out additional counsel and wisdom that can mitigate those dynamics.
Today we must encourage and help students to build mentoring networks that include multiple people who can support and encourage them as they pursue their individual paths. An effective network of mentors, wise counselors, sponsors, advisors, coaches, and accountability partners helps to broaden students’ perspectives, diversify the voices that are speaking into their lives, increase their access to opportunities, and encourage deeper reflection and learning. And it lessens the burden on any one person to serve as that all-consuming mentor.
Research on strong and weak ties dates back to the early 1970s. Strong ties, the people who know you the best, are key elements of an effective support system. These people are most like you, share your values and worldview, and often have blinders on when it comes to providing objective, impactful feedback. Weak ties go broad but not deep. They know you well enough to support your growth, but they aren’t necessarily your close friends and family.
A great network contains both strong and weak ties. Help your students build their networks by asking them to do a simple network-mapping activity. Who is in their network, currently, and where are there gaps? How can they use the people in their network to create new, broader connections? Encourage them to begin to grow their networks, now, to impact short and long-term learning and growth.
Allison McWilliams, director of mentoring and alumni personal and career development in the Office of Personal and Career Development, writes occasional articles for Inside WFU. This is the fourth and final for the fall semester. In each, she shares observations and suggestions with faculty and staff drawn from her professional experience with students.
Each year about this time a particular sense of stress combined with excitement combined with worry moves across our campus. There are only so many days left in the semester. There are finals to take and final papers to submit. There are travel plans to coordinate. There is either excitement or dread about going home for an extended period of time, or about not having a home to go to. There is the relief of a semester finally (almost) behind us, and perhaps some excitement about what next semester may bring. That transition piece, in particular, is something that I love about the academic year: at the end of each semester we get the chance for a re-set, to start anew with new expectations and goals. Nothing else in life is really like that (which is one of the reasons that the transition from college to career can be so jarring for our students), and it is a perk of which we all should take full advantage.
Categories: Guest Post
Wake Forest’s Pro Humanitate Institute and the Office of Personal and Career Development are co-sponsoring a clothing drive for Dress for Success in honor of Nancy Lublin’s visit to campus for the Leadership Project. At age 23, Lublin founded Dress for Success using a $5,000 inheritance.
Dress for Success is a nonprofit that provides interview suits and career development training to women in Winston-Salem and in more than 125 cities in 15 countries. The organization promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. In 2014, the Winston-Salem affiliate assisted 149 women.
In addition to professional women’s clothing of all sizes (size 16 and above are a special need), the Pro Humanitate Institute is collecting:
The Office of Personal and Career Development named J. Matthew Williams the associate director for marketing and communications, starting Sept. 16. Williams will oversee strategy and operations for the OPCD’s marketing and communications team, which impacts all undergraduate, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and Divinity School students.
In addition to managing all communications to the OPCD’s many constituent groups, Williams will lead the OPCD’s initiatives in student tracking and outcomes, social media, LinkedIn alumni and industry networks, and special projects/events.
Williams previously served as the assistant director of the office of diversity and inclusion, where he led the Faces of Courage programming in 2011-2012. He also was instrumental in implementing faculty and staff recruitment and retention initiatives, while also strengthening faculty, staff, and student intercultural communication competence as a trained diversity educator.
Williams’ prior work as a marketing and communications professional includes positions with Ketchum Public Relations and Widmeyer Communications, where he developed communication programs to help nonprofits, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies advance civic and social issues. His work has been nationally recognized by the Public Relations Society of America and the Texas Public Relations Association, as well as at other industry events.
Categories: Staff News