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Thread: Mentors - Do you have one? Are you one?

  1. #26
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    I would consider the former director where I work now as my mentor (I interned here while in college).

    He expressed supreme confidence in me, allowed me to make mistakes, and showed me the ropes of planning in NH. I will never forget it, nor ever be able to thank him enough.

    I don't know that I would consider myself a mentor, but I've tried to be to the interns I've had over the last few summers.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  2. #27
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    My current director is my mentor. I originally met her on a PSO field trip to a TND project in college--she had brought some of her staff along to give them more exposure to the concept. We got to chatting and really seemed to hit it off well. I ended-up taking a position as a one-man-shop for a small town and often contacted her for suggestions on some policy development stuff.

    We again came in close contact working on the 2006 National Conference in San Antonio, working together on the conference committee. We were getting along really well and I had shared with her some of my issues with my job at the time (feeling like I was in over my head, frustration about my opinion being completely disregarded, etc.).

    Then in February she gave me a call and asked if I knew anyone who was interested in a position that had been open in her department for a while. I knew this position was open, but didn't think I was qualified (actually, I think I was just too chicken to apply). However, I knew they had already been through a round of interviews, so I figured that meant she hadn't had any applicants she liked. A week after polishing up my resume and sending it in I was interviewed. A month after that I'm sitting in an office down the hall from her and am MUCH MUCH happier with my job.

    She has chatted with me several times about my specific interests and has involved me in high-profile projects--putting a lot of confidence & trust in me. She tries to give me tasks that will help round-out my resume and set me up for an upper-level position down the road. I really appreciate the level of attention she gives me and her efforts to help me pursue my career goals.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #28
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I was really lucky that I worked for a few people early on in my career that were interested in helping me do well - to me, that's part of what a mentor does.

    I also was mentored by the Principal of the firm where my husband used to work - in terms of advice on career moves, he was great - my brother has also filled this role, as well as one of my hyper successful girlfriends; both of these people are not in the profession or allied profession, but they know how to do well and help(ed) me alot.

    My hope for my new entry level planner hire will be that this person will be the type that wants to be mentored, wants to learn, wants help - after 20 years of practice, I think I'm ready to help someone else

    ...though I am glad my Town Manager here is the type that I can seek advice from without retribution, because you always need that!

    so, it really comes down to the basic need we all have of a nurturing environment!

  4. #29
    Cyburbian
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    A mentor is, I think, a core concept to really doing well in a profession. I've had a few over my life, though there are definitely times that I wish I had more...

    Had a mentor who was originally a supervisor at a non-profit where I was interning. He took helped me a ton after I'd left the internship and actually helped me get the job i have now. There have been a lot of late nights with beers talking bar-stool planning theory that have helped me form my thoughts.

    Had a mentor in undergrad who helped tremendously when I was beginning to pursue my first degree (archaeology). Great career advice (though I later left that career).

    I've also, in the last few years, really tried to look at the products (plans, books, articles, various studies) done by planners that I really admire. I occassionally fire off emails to planners whose careers I admire, and most of them are nice enough to answer.

    And finally- while nobody on cyburbia is officially a mentor, I do get a tremendous amount of insight from reading the posts. Even though I don't post that often, I definitely check in with cyburbia numberous times a day... its a great education!

  5. #30
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    This one was covered a bit in the past in this thread

    But it is a good one to recreate. For a while I have searched for a mentor, but I find it difficult because people are just so buy. How would you suggest approaching someone that you don’t work with about this?

    Moderator note:
    Threads merged.
    Last edited by Planderella; 11 Oct 2006 at 9:42 AM. Reason: Merged threads
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  6. #31
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    How would you suggest approaching someone that you don’t work with about this?
    I'd start with asking them if they'd mind if you discussed some situations with them every now and then, just to get some insight, or that you would value their opinion on such and such, etc. It may seem a bit awkward, but that kind of opening should tell you if they are receptive or think you're a flake. Going out to lunch works well when I need to talk one-on-one with someone - everyone needs to get out of the office now and then.

    I've had some wonderful mentors that have (and are) really helping me with this strange career. One, however, became resentful when I started taking some limelight from her (unintentionally!) and things became uncomfortable. It's wonderful to get someone else's perspective, though, and since you seem like you are really making some huge career decisions it is a great idea. Good luck! (I couldn't mentor a Deadwings fan - just kidding!)

  7. #32
    Cyburbian michiganplanner's avatar
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    This isn't a direct answer to the question. In fact it's not an answer at all - It's just an idea that I came up with a week ago. It's like this: For some reason, I feel the urge to take my career into city/village/town management. Now, I don't see myself leading a municipality over 10,000 people because I'd like to stay longer than what traditional manager stays (short tenured - at least in Michigan) and the bigger the place the shorter the stay (hasty generalization, but stay with me). So my bright idea was to call up one of the roughly 12 managers I have working relationships with and ask them if I could shadow them for a week. I'd take vacation time to do it, but it could be well worth it. And like it or not, it'd make a mentor out the poor guy.
    I'd be more apathetic if I weren't so lethargic.

  8. #33
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    There are a few people that I had in mind, downfall is they all work in the town that I live in. I commute about an hour each way for work, so it would have to be a weekend or evening thing. I think that it would be far more difficult with work schedules and such.

    There is one guy who I might think about approaching. He has a well known developer who has had (and is having) quite a bit of success with the redevelopment of older historic buildings within the city. Everything that this guy does has been a goal of mine for a very long time.

    His company owns the building that I live in and I had met him once in the hallway. I had my new puppy with me, and about two weeks later he recognized the puppy and met my fiancée and asked if I was home, so I think that he would remember me if I contacted him.

    Would it be inappropriate to E-mail him, since he is rarely in the office, and ask him if he would like to meet up for lunch on some Saturday to get some ideas from his experiences with past projects? I would mention that I am trying to get information for my Thesis. (Which would be part of it)
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  9. #34
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I don't have one right now. I would like to find someone who has gone the same path that I am looking at going.

    One of the guys in the office is kind of a mentor to me, but his advice is to get my masters, work my year, and apply for something better.
    In some cases, Do you believe that a mentor can also be one of your people under your management? Sometimes it happens and you can get better ideas from them.

    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    To me success is achieving my personal goals.
    Did you already make your personal goal in the first place? say what would you want to be in the next five years? If you have already that, work on that goal.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 25 Oct 2006 at 8:40 AM.

  10. #35
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jess View post
    In some cases, Do you believe that a mentor can also be one of your people under your management? Sometimes it happens and you can get better ideas from them.
    I agree... however, I am bottom of the ladder.

    Quote Originally posted by Jess View post
    Did you already make your personal goal in the first place? say what would you want to be in the next five years? If you have already that, work on that goal.
    I have a full comprehensive and detailed plan of goals by particular dates and listing the steps that I need to take to achieve those goals, also with completion dates.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  11. #36
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I agree... however, I am bottom of the ladder.

    Even though you're in this level of work, try to build a "Buddy-buddy system" of relationship with your co-workers. Grab all opportunities that your current job could offer (if the job is really in line of your goal). Don't be ashamed to ask questions about the job. Remember the saying " Better be an idiot once, than being for a lifetime". Always create an open communication with your boss, ask them for guidance, Bosses are willing to train people really interested in their work.


    I have a full comprehensive and detailed plan of goals by particular dates and listing the steps that I need to take to achieve those goals, also with completion dates.
    Great!! You're heading into success. Just implement it righteously. There may be stages wherein things will just go badly, do not lose hope, be ready to make strategies to keep align with your goal. (You can already predict some of these today, ask yourself then seek possible solutions in case they happens).
    By the way, try to asses your current job if it's in line with your goal. If not, you find alternative ways to sustain that job. Good luck to your career path.

    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    There are a few people that I had in mind, downfall is they all work in the town that I live in. I commute about an hour each way for work, so it would have to be a weekend or evening thing. I think that it would be far more difficult with work schedules and such.

    There is one guy who I might think about approaching. He has a well known developer who has had (and is having) quite a bit of success with the redevelopment of older historic buildings within the city. Everything that this guy does has been a goal of mine for a very long time.

    His company owns the building that I live in and I had met him once in the hallway. I had my new puppy with me, and about two weeks later he recognized the puppy and met my fiancée and asked if I was home, so I think that he would remember me if I contacted him.

    Would it be inappropriate to E-mail him, since he is rarely in the office, and ask him if he would like to meet up for lunch on some Saturday to get some ideas from his experiences with past projects? I would mention that I am trying to get information for my Thesis. (Which would be part of it)
    There's nothing wrong if you e-mail him. Just introduce yourself politely. You can even set an appointment with his secretary to make sure he has no conflicts with the schedule. Why not give him your calling card in case you meet him, and offer that you will be delighted to talk to him someday?
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 25 Oct 2006 at 8:40 AM.

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