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Vanderbilt Staff Mentorship Program

The Vanderbilt Staff Mentorship Program (VSMP) fosters professional and career growth for employees, sparks connections and offers access to potential mentors, creates chances for mentoring relationships to grow organically and fosters an ongoing mentorship culture throughout the university. ​    

VSMP timeline:  

  • An informational event for prospective mentors and mentees  
    • Tuesday, October 18th, 1-2:15 p.m., Student Life Center Ballroom  
    • All who are interested in learning more about the program are invited to the launch, which will include remarks by Eric Kopstain , vice chancellor for administration, and Candice Lee , vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director. They will share words of wisdom from their own mentorship experiences.  
    • Registration is requested, as seating is limited to 150 people. The launch will be recorded and made available to all registrants after the event. Those unable to attend the Oct. 18th event are still encouraged to register, as the program committee will follow up to provide all relevant information.  
    • We invite you to read the myVU story about the launch.   
  • An application period: Applications to serve as a mentor or mentee are available now, and are due on Oct. 27th.  Applicants will be notified of their status on a rolling basis. Approved mentors and mentees are expected to participate in the ELE webinar about the VSMP initiative, expectations and mentoring best practices, on Nov. 2 from 11-11:30 a.m.
  • Save the date for the ELE webinar on the VSMP, expectations and mentoring best practices - Nov. 2 from 11-11:30 a.m. [Download and save the Outlook calendar invitation here, and then open on your computer]
  • Mentoring sessions: Appointments between mentors and mentees are encouraged to take place Nov. 7–Dec. 16th.  

Program Overview  

The Vanderbilt Staff Mentorship Program is designed to spark organic mentoring relationships with a focus on connecting mentors and mentees. Each mentee will be able to meet with up to two different mentors. The expectation is that these are one-time mentoring conversations, providing opportunities to discuss career and professional growth one on one or in a small group. Longer-term mentoring relationships may evolve but are not guaranteed. The continuation of the relationship will be determined by the mentee and mentor.  

Looking for more information? 

For Mentors  

mentor journey

Expectations  

  • Participate in ELE webinar about VSMP initiative, expectations and mentoring best practices​  
  • Designate and hold at least three separate 30-minute mentoring sessions during mentoring month​  
    • Each mentoring session can be with one individual mentee or a small group of mentees  
  • Exhibit reflective listening, empathy and advocacy and share insights from your experiences​  

Eligibility  

To be eligible to serve as a mentor, you must:  

  • Meet one or more of the following criteria:
    • be knowledgeable in your field or area
    • have a willingness to share about your experience at Vanderbilt and/or in your field
    • have experience at Vanderbilt University or in your field, or
    • have unique experiences and skills;  
  • Be employed at Vanderbilt University for a minimum of 12 months ​  
  • Be willing to devote at least one and a half hours to mentoring during the mentoring period ( Nov. 7–Dec. 16th)
  • Be passionate about supporting the professional development of staff members, and  
  • Be in good standing with the university  

The application form will ask for:  

  • Name, role, department  
  • Short biography  
  • Any specific topics you feel especially qualified to mentor about, topics you are interested in discussing
  • Three or more 30-minute blocks of time between Nov. 7–Dec. 16th  for mentoring sessions 
  • Preference for one on one or small group (up to three mentees) sessions
  • Preference for virtual or in person sessions   

Next Steps  

We invite you to:  

  • Register for the Informational Event on October 18th
    • If you are not available to participate in the Informational Event, the recording will be available in this shared Box folder following the event.
  • Share information about this mentoring opportunity with your colleagues - help us recruit more mentors
  • Save at least three 30-minute time slots on your calendar between  Nov. 7–Dec. 16th.
  • Apply to serve as a mentor - applications are available now and are due on Oct. 27th
  • Save the date for the ELE webinar on the VSMP, expectations and mentoring best practices - Nov. 2 from 11-11:30 a.m. [Download and save the Outlook calendar invitation here, and then open on your computer]

For Mentees  

mentee journey

Expectations  

  • Completion of:
  • Sign up for no more than two 30-minute time slots (one per mentor). The goal is for each mentee to meet with at least two mentors. ​  
  • Send each mentor a meeting invitation, short biography and three questions/topics for discussion, at least a week before your mentoring session​  

Eligibility  

  • have completed your initial employee orientation period (90 days);  
  • be prepared to discuss goals and career plans and appreciate alternative viewpoints and advice; and  
  • be willing to devote at least three hours to the program between Nov. 7–Dec. 16th

The application form will ask for:  

  • Name, title, and department  
  • Selection/preferencing of available mentors via scheduling platform   

Next Steps  

We invite you to:  

Download the mentee checklist here!

Mentor biographies

View our current mentor biographies here

FAQs  

Can I serve as a mentor and a mentee?  

Yes, we intentionally designed the Staff Mentoring Program so that an employee can serve as both a mentor and as a mentee. Here’s how to move forward:  

  • Complete and submit the mentor application, indicating dates and times that you are available to serve as a mentor and block those times off on your calendar  
  • Complete the mentee application; when you receive the link to SignUpGenius, look for times other than the ones you indicated you are available to serve as a mentor  
I missed the October application deadline. Can I still apply to serve as a mentor or to be a mentee?

At this time, we are unable to accept applications past the deadline, as we are at capacity for both mentors and mentees. We hope you plan to participate in the next VSMP cycle. 

I’m a postdoctoral scholar. Am I eligible to participate in VSMP?  

VSMP is currently open to full-time staff of Vanderbilt University who have been employed for a minimum of 12 months. However, this does not include postdoctoral scholars. If you are a postdoctoral scholar, we invite you to contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs  

I'm a student worker or graduate assistant. Am I eligible to participate in VSMP?

VSMP is currently open to full-time staff of Vanderbilt University who have been employed for a minimum of 12 months. Students and graduate assistants are not eligible to participate in VSMP. If you are a student or graduate assistant, we invite you to pursue mentoring opportunities through Student Affairs  

I work in Vanderbilt Temporary Services. Am I eligible to participate in VSMP?  

VSMP is currently open to full-time staff of Vanderbilt University who have been employed for a minimum of 12 months.  

I work at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Am I eligible to participate?  

VSMP is currently open to full-time staff of Vanderbilt University who have been employed for a minimum of 12 months.  

Are remote and hybrid employees eligible to participate in VSMP?  

Yes, we would love to have participants who represent all work arrangements at Vanderbilt. Please let us know if we can answer any questions as you consider participating in the program.  

I wasn’t able to attend the Fall 2022 informational event. Is there a recording I can watch?  

Yes, please register for the event and the program committee will follow up to provide relevant information and the recording.   

What if my availability changes after I sign up for a time slot as a mentor or as a mentee?  

If your availability changes, we ask that you:  

  • Contact your mentor/mentee to inform them of the change and to discuss the potential to reschedule  
  • Contact staffmentoring@vanderbilt.edu so that we may open the time slot to another interested mentee  
Will there be an opportunity to schedule later this semester?  

During the application process, mentors indicate the dates and times they are available for the VSMP mentoring sessions. If mentors are available later in the semester, those dates will show within SignUpGenius after the ELE introductory webinar.   

Are you going to host this opportunity in the spring?    

VSMP plans to celebrate national mentoring month in the spring semester and, based on the outcomes of this fall offering, will determine the next opportunities. We encourage you to participate in this pilot offering, if possible.  

What is the background of this program? How was it created?  

VU offers mentoring opportunities for faculty and students, however, w e lack a centralized mentorship program for staff members.  We have a desire to move the Vanderbilt University employee experience from a place of silos to a culture of radical collaboration. Radical collaboration should  include the career development and advancement of our employees.   

  • USAC -  suggested a “centrally coordinated set of comprehensive staff mentorship programs,” to include a ...peer mentoring program [Source: USAC Staff Life Committee Professional Development and Staff Engagement, Statement of Support and Recommendations, dated October 30, 2020]  
  • Staff WAVE Council -  suggested a “formalized staff mentoring program to pair early and mid-career professionals with University staff in higher-level leadership roles to help promote career growth and build diverse networks across campus,” as well as mentoring opportunities specifically for women. [Source: Report of the Staff Women’s Advancement and Equity Council, dated December 14, 2020]

Mentoring programs have many benefits to the mentor, mentee, and organization  including increased employee engagement and retention, positive contributions to diversity & inclusion efforts, aids in personal and professional development, improve workplace culture, career growth and succession planning, and more collaboration and teamwork.   

If we decide to continue the mentor/mentee relationship, what should we do?

VSMP is the spark, and any ongoing relationship is completely up to you. We encourage you to have a candid conversation and discuss what that ongoing relationship might look like. As Candice Storey Lee, vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director, shared at the launch event, cultivating authentic relationships is important – and you never know what you can learn from each other. Maintaining rapport, understanding what your mentor/mentee does and how they navigate Vanderbilt, can be valuable.

For mentees  

How do I sign up for mentoring sessions?  

After you’ve completed the mentoring module in Oracle ( Finding and Nurturing Mentor Relationships ) and participated in the HR ELE webinar, you will receive a link to SignUpGenius. Here’s a short step-by-step guide on how to sign up for mentoring spots.   

What if I don’t know who I’d like to be my mentor?  

We invite you to browse mentor bios, which will be available after the mentor application period.   

Here are resources on what to look for in a mentor:  

What if I want to meet with a mentor without any available time slots? What if I can’t find a time that works with my calendar?   

All available times are posted in SignUpGenius. If you are looking at times for Krystal Clark, for example, but other mentees have already signed up for those times, we invite you to browse the mentor bios to find another mentor you are interested in meeting.    

What if I want to continue to meet with my mentor?    What happens after my mentoring meeting? What is the continuity plan? (*This question is from an attendee at the 10/18 VSMP event.)

VSMP offers the opportunity to spark connections, as the most successful mentoring relationships start organically. The expectation is that this is a one-time mentoring conversation, which will provide you face time with a mentor who may provide insights on career and professional growth. Longer term mentoring relationships may evolve but are not guaranteed or expected. If your mentoring session went well and you are interested in continuing the relationship, we encourage you to discuss potential future meetings with your mentor. Please note that the expectation for VSMP is that this is a one-time mentoring session – anything past that is up to you and your mentor.  

What if I want to talk to someone about my mentoring experience?  

We invite you to email staffmentoring@vanderbilt.edu to connect with the VSMP committee to share your experience and/or discuss any questions or concerns.   

For mentors

What if I haven’t mentored anyone before? Is this open to first-time mentors?  

Yes, we invite mentor applications from employees who have not served in a mentor capacity in the past. We invite you to explore our mentoring resources. We want you to feel confident in what you’re bringing to a mentoring relationship, and we believe that employees across the university will find value in your experiences and insights.  

We are looking for employees who are knowledgeable in their field or area,  have a willingness to share about their experience at Vanderbilt and/or in field, have experience at Vanderbilt University or in their field, or h ave unique experiences and skills.    

Are you early in your career? We encourage employees at all levels to consider serving as a mentor! Have you heard of reverse mentoring? In reverse mentoring, early career employees can contribute their unique talents and insights while simultaneously learning from a professional with a longer career. For example, you may share your experiences utilizing search engine optimization strategies for clients at a marketing firm (in your previous role) with a fellow employee who can share their insights from their 15+ year career in higher education.    

How do I figure out what I bring to the table as a mentor? Am I ready to be a mentor? (*This question is from an attendee at the 10/18 VSMP event.)

As Candice Storey Lee, vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director, shared at the launch event, start with your story. What has your experience been like at Vanderbilt, and what has your career path looked like overall? The HR ELE team (ele@vanderbilt.edu) is available if you would like to connect to talk through how your experiences and skills could be valuable for mentees.  

What if I want to talk with someone about my mentoring experience?

We invite you to email staffmentoring@vanderbilt.edu to connect with the VSMP committee to share your experience and/or discuss any questions or concerns.