NERA strives to not only be a professional organization, but also a professional community where we can learn from one another. Since mentoring is a valued and a valuable piece of this professional community, we want to ensure that all NERA members are aware of the mentoring opportunities available. The NERA Board of Directors supports two main approaches: 1) conference-based connections and 2) an online message board. Both approaches share the common goal of increasing mentoring relationships among NERA members, yet each has its own unique advantages.
The conference-based Mentoring Program has existed for several years and serves as a focused, hand-selected match-making process. Each year, the Mentorship Program co-chairs collect information from members who want to be a mentor or want to be mentored. Mentor-Mentee pairs are matched based on research interests, career goals, or areas of desired growth expressed by the mentee, and the background and expertise of mentors. Pairs are then encouraged to talk before, and meet during, the annual NERA conference. By participating in the Mentoring Program, participants receive the benefit of a structured and informed match, and have dedicated time during the conference to meet with their mentor or mentee. Additionally, mentees are not reliant on existing social connections and can meet experienced and valuable mentors of whom they might not have been aware.
The mentoring message board, instituted last year by past-president John Young, is available 24 hours a day and can be accessed via the “Mentoring Board” link listed under the Mentoring tab on the NERA website. From there, members can sign up to be a mentor or potential mentees can view the contact information for mentor volunteers. The advantage of this approach is that members can sign-up or reach out at any point throughout the year. Users have the freedom to form their own mentor-mentee relationships. This may even connect researchers in the same geographic area and foster face-to-face meetings. It also allows members to be a mentor or a mentee even if they cannot attend the annual conference.
As you can see, both approaches aim to foster mentoring, yet have their own set of benefits. Please take advantage of either (or even both) based on your own preference. As always, feel free to reach out to Ross (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jonathan (email@example.com) should you have any questions. Happy mentoring!
What are the benefits of mentorship?
There are many benefits to seeking mentorship. Mentors can provide perspective on skills and perspectives, or discuss career opportunities that were previously unconsidered. They can inform mentees of opportunities or make connections with others in the appropriate field. Mentors can even be a sounding board to test ideas or plans that mentees might be developing.
Specifically, the NERA Mentorship Program has several advantages. First and foremost, it provides graduate students and new professionals the opportunity to make new connections in the field of educational research. Additionally, it allows Mentees to gain additional perspective on a research project, topic, or paper, or to explore or develop their academic and/or professional goals. Ultimately, we hope that the experience instills mentoring, including the skills necessary to be good mentors and mentees, in all that participate.
What is expected of NERA Mentees:
Mentees send in their applications by August 14th, 2015 (see application specifics below).
Four weeks before our conference, individual Mentees will send their Mentor up to 20 pages (double spaced, 12 point font size) of their own work in progress. They could send a dissertation chapter, a portion of a dissertation proposal, a journal manuscript, a grant application, or any similar artifact of research. Alternatively, if individual Mentees have a broader topic they would like to discuss not related to a specific research project, they should send the Mentors at least a 1-page description of what they would like to discuss, and what their goals for the mentorship meeting are. This may also include a copy of the Mentee’s current curriculum vitae.
A NERA Mentee will spend 30 minutes in an individual meeting with a Mentor at the annual NERA conference.
After the NERA conference, the NERA Mentee will complete a survey about their experience.
What is expected of NERA Mentors:
NERA Mentors will review the material sent to them by their assigned Mentee(s) before the NERA meeting.
NERA Mentors will come ready to offer whatever suggestions, constructive criticism, or questions they think might help a graduate student/new professional given the current stage of their work and ongoing growth.
How to apply:
Anyone – mentor or mentee - interested in participating should complete the online survey and registration, which gathers contact information as well as intended goals for the mentorship experience. The registration survey can be found at http://tinyurl.com/NERAMENTOR.
Participants can also directly contact the committee chairs - Jonathan Rubright (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ross Markle (email@example.com) – via email.
A summary of the committee’s timeline is as follows: