October 27 may be National Mentoring Day... but CSU has 364 more of them!
Head’s up, Vikings! October 27 is National Mentoring Day! Launched to celebrate the significant benefits of mentoring, the day draws focus on recognizing excellence and raising awareness on the huge impact one-to-one personal mentoring on not only our economy but also our society.
Inspired by National Mentoring Month, an annual campaign to promote youth mentoring, the day brings focus to the importance of student- and peer-to-peer mentoring and career coaching. Mentoring is something we take very seriously here at Cleveland State University—not just on a given day or month, but all year long. Here's a snapshot into some of what CSU offers students in the way of guidance, mentoring and coaching every day and why it's important.
Mentoring and Coaching: Major Component of Engaged Learning
CSU has a wealth of resources and support for students who are finding their way through the university experience: The CSU TRIO/SSS/First Gen Center First Year Experience Peer Mentoring Program The Pratt Center Pathways to Practice Graduation Coaching Office Summer Bridge Enrichment Academy Live & Learn Communities Office of Career Development & Exploration and more.
All it takes is a little encouragement and a clear idea of what a student needs that can lead them in a whole new direction, including to the Wolstein Center for graduation! Each individual college and their respective departments have official and unofficial mentors and coaches as well—not even to mention events with networking opportunities. Professionals who visit campus with a glimpse of a student’s future state might well become a mentor or coach.
Consider deepening those connections as well. You never know where it will lead.
Mentoring and Coaching: An Ecosystem
The “deepening” is the key. Most resources that students find in books, articles and advice from internet searches ultimately come from the perspective of a mentor or coach. Local entrepreneur and business professional David Lupyan of Lupyan & Associates suggests taking the spirit of mentoring deep into a career, building a varied network of connections with the same mindset.
“The best professional resource you can have is an intellectually diverse network,” said Lupyan.
“It takes years to develop. I make sure that I am connected to bankers, scientists, lawyers, medical, non-profits, salespeople, students... Each has their own worldview which allows you to synthesize the best approaches to solving life’s problems.”
The fact is, the interpersonal nature of mentoring and coaching lies in connection, communication, relationship and teambuilding—something that requires a two-way flow of honesty and information between mentor and mentee that transcends anything transactional.
In 2019, our own Mandi Goodsett, M.Ed., M.S. and librarian of the CSU Michael Schwartz Library, published a paper that comes at the mentoring/coaching dynamic from the mentee’s perspective. It’s a great read for anyone looking to find a good mentor or coach, regardless of educational/career tract.
What Makes a Mentee?
The short answer is engaged curiosity. The longer answer involves a lot of investment: time, effort, commitment, connectivity and relationship.
In A Short Guide to Being Mentored: Tips for Strong Relationships, the Performing Arts & Humanities Librarian and Open Educational Resources & Copyright Advisor says that mentors and mentees aren’t born, they’re made.
Goodsett looks to six keys to making coaching and mentoring work from the student perspective: Commit. Plan. Prepare. Listen. Collaborate. Read up.
After graduating with her library science degree, Goodsett said that she was “interested in getting more support and began exploring the landscape of mentoring and librarianship.” Before long, she was signed up for six mentoring programs across seven years’ time—local through national levels—comparing them to see what was effective and what wasn’t.
Blending the Traditional with the Nontraditional
“The biggest takeaway for me was that mentoring relationships require commitment and work on an interpersonal level,” she said, adding that she learned so much that she was inspired to write about it.
“Sometimes, there’s this sense that participation is good enough,” Goodsett added. “But it really isn’t a transactional experience and it shouldn’t be. For mentoring to be completely meaningful in time and energy, both parties need to show up and engage.”
Nick Petty, M.Ed., executive director of student success and excellence agrees. So much so, in fact, that he receives three messages from three different mentees while we discuss the subject. There’s a familial rapport and mutual respect in the mentorship relationship. And if there isn’t, there should be.
Petty believes that “a critical attribute to student success is relationships and a sense of belonging, feeling part of a community,” and said that tradition suggests mentorship as a “structured relationship through which mentees benefit by receiving advice and instruction from a seasoned professional.”
He added that having an engaging, proactive approach “at the onset of their academic career can establish rapport… active listening builds trust and establishes relationships with students, which supports their academic and career pathway success.”
The approach of the group he anchors is focused on helping students overcome barriers, both academic and nonacademic. Simply email Petty through their page to get started.
“Unconditional Guidance and Unwavering Support”
Megan Mukenge is one of the newer members of the CSU Graduation Coaching team. She works with a cohort of students to provide mentoring support, academic and career guidance and connections to additional resources on campus. More generally, she serves as a personal guide to help new members of the CSU community find their way and succeed.
“Most of the students I work with are the first in their families to attend college and have limited experience with navigating a university environment,” Mukenge said. “The relationship between a mentor and mentee is so incredibly impactful. Mentorship utilizes a two-way approach to elevate the mind, skillset and resiliency of others to realize and achieve their greatest potential.
Mukenge said that mentors play a vital role in helping their mentee navigate any circumstances and challenges they may encounter with “unconditional guidance and unwavering support,” something that may be lacking in other areas of a student’s life.
“When I reflect back on the mentors that I have had throughout the years, I am forever grateful for the role they have played in helping me foster my own personal and professional development,” she added.
“We believe that relationships are essential to supporting our students to help them realize their academic and professional goals. That doesn’t end when we part ways on campus for short or long periods of time,” Petty said.
“These relationships build and grow. We see that boomerang back to us,” Petty added, pointing to his mobile phone with a smile. “Some of them even text during the day to let us know how they’re doing.”
Hear from some Vikings about how mentorship (specifically our Graduation Success Coaching Program) helped them succeed.