NCFR Mentoring Academy
The NCFR Mentoring Academy aims to advance the discipline of Family Science by supporting and encouraging the professional development of graduate students and early-career Family Science professionals.
Central to the mission is cultivating and nurturing relationships among NCFR members that provide guidance for navigating issues related to educational and career development, equity and diversity, and work-life integration.
Mentoring can be a key resource to help you learn, grow, and advance professionally; receive support and guidance in taking on professional challenges and changes; achieve successful outcomes; and more. A mentoring relationship can even provide long-term practical benefits: In one employer’s analysis, employees who had a mentor were promoted five times more often than employees without mentors.
A mentoring relationship can be just as valuable to the mentor as to the mentee. Benefits of being a mentor include development of leadership and communication skills; opportunity to add service to your CV/résumé; enrichment of your own professional and personal knowledge; and the chance to gain new colleagues and new perspectives.
Knowing how crucial mentoring relationships can be to professional success, NCFR and its Students and New Professionals (SNP) leaders are excited to pilot the NCFR Mentoring Academy.
NCFR Mentoring Academy Process
Mentoring Term and Timeline
The NCFR Mentoring Academy is currently a two-year pilot program beginning in 2019, with one mentoring term per year. A mentoring term starts at that year’s NCFR Annual Conference and ends at the following NCFR Annual Conference (when the next term and group of mentors/mentees begins). Of course, a mentoring relationship can continue after the one-year period if the mentor and mentee agree to continue to work together.
As part of the pilot program, mentoring may occur in pairs of one mentor and one mentee, or in small groups of one mentor and multiple mentees, depending on the applicants’ preferences and the availability of mentor/mentee matches.
A call for applicants for each year-long mentoring term will be distributed in May. Applications will be due July 1. Only NCFR members are eligible to participate in the NCFR Mentoring Academy; any member is eligible.
Applicants will be notified by Sept. 15 about whether they have been accepted. NCFR will publish an organization-wide announcement introducing the program participants.
Training and orientation will occur at that year’s NCFR Annual Conference with the group of all mentors and mentees selected.
As an NCFR Mentoring Academy participant, you will be asked for a one-year commitment. How often the mentor and mentee meet is a decision each pair will make together. We recommend that mentors and mentees have contact with each other at least once per month for a minimum of one hour.
Mentoring relationships should benefit both the mentor and mentee. Pairs will discuss and agree upon goals that support each other’s work or development. For example, the pair could agree to complete a project together of shared interest (e.g., presentation, manuscript, teaching material) or to problem-solve specific tasks (e.g., applying for postdoctoral positions or jobs).
As a participant in the NCFR Mentoring Academy, you will be asked to participate in periodic check-ins to share your experiences in and feedback about the program with NCFR. During the mentoring term, these check-ins may involve completing brief surveys and/or talking briefly over email or phone. At the end of the mentoring term, you will be asked to participate in an exit survey and/or interview to share more about your experiences in the program and how we could improve the program for future participants.
Participants also will abide by the NCFR Mentoring Academy Ethical Guidelines, as well as by the NCFR Ethical Principles and Guidelines for Family Scientists.
Expectations of Mentors
As a mentor in the NCFR Mentoring Academy program, you should strive to do the following:
- Initiate contact with your mentee
- Prepare for the first meeting by reading the mentee application form
- Lead the first discovery call
- Determine how to communicate (e.g., email, video call, text)
- Discuss whether the mentee may communicate with the mentor between calls or during calls only
- Convey the importance of confidentiality and trust
- Establish a mutually agreed-upon goal(s) that benefits both participants
- Be available to your mentee at least once a month
- Share methods and strategies and give constructive and positive feedback
- Serve as a realistic role model and promote best practices, without promoting yourself as the ultimate authority
- Assist in developing skills, using NCFR and other resources as appropriate
- Encourage, support, and confirm while helping the mentee gain confidence and independence
- Avoid personal criticism
- Suggest a reassignment as needed
Expectations of Mentees
- Desire to surpass current levels of performance and comfort
- Take equal responsibility and be an active partner in the mentor-mentee relationship
- Establish a mutually agreed-upon goal(s)
- Prepare for discussions ahead of time; have an agenda
- Conduct a reasonable number of independent tasks
- Use NCFR resources as appropriate
- Show a willingness to ask questions that range from simple and practical to complex and conceptual
- Follow through with suggested resources, research, tasks, etc.
- Initiate contact with your mentor as needed / as agreed upon
- Inform existing mentors at your institution or place of work of your involvement and interest in building a mentoring network
How to Make Mentoring Work
As a mentor or mentee in the NCFR Mentoring Academy, you will regularly receive resources to support the development and growth of your mentoring relationship.
Personal interest and sincerity cultivate a positive mentoring relationship. This may manifest through mutual sharing of information, experiences, and discoveries; seeking input; providing follow-up; and initiating contacts.
While mentors and mentees should recognize the value of reaching out to one another for support and information, some of the most productive conversations can evolve from the simple act of calling just to say hello. Given the natural progression of such a relationship, mentors and mentees can become valuable resources for one another.
The expectations of the relationship should be clearly defined by both the mentor and the mentee at the outset. Some recommendations:
- Establish the timing and frequency of contacts
- Exchange background information
- Identify areas of mutual interest and for goal-setting
- Share methods of achieving goals
Suggestions for establishing and maintaining a positive mentoring relationship:
- Use any combination of telephone, email, video call, social media, etc.
- Establish a level of comfort so the mentee and mentor feel free to contact one another
- Make an unexpected call to touch base, or send an email to check in
- Forward articles or other resources of special interest
- Acknowledge milestones with a call, card, or email
- Plan to meet in person at the NCFR Annual Conference
If you find that the mentoring relationship is not working for you, please discuss your concerns with your mentor or mentee, and/or contact NCFR.
How to Get Involved With the NCFR Mentoring Academy
Apply online by July 1 to be a mentee or to serve as a mentor in the NCFR Mentoring Academy. There are separate applications for each role:
You'll be asked to provide the following information in your application:
- contact details, including NCFR membership level
- current résumé/CV
- areas in which you wish to mentor or receiving mentoring (select from list provided)
- a personal statement of 500 words:
- Mentor applicants will describe why you want to be a mentor, what you hope to contribute to the relationship, and topics around which you would like to mentor.
- Mentee applicants will describe why you want to be mentored and what you hope to gain that you are unable to receive from your current institution or employer.
- a 100-word biography to be shared with your mentor or mentee if you are accepted to the program
- Mentors also will share any mentoring-related awards/honors received.
- Mentees also will describe the qualities they seek in a mentor.
If accepted, you will be matched with a mentor or mentee by Sept. 15. Introductions will be made by email from the NCFR office at that time.
Any NCFR member is eligible to apply. Applications will be reviewed by the NCFR Mentoring Academy Committee. Decisions will be made based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to one’s mentoring skills and the needs and the availability of qualified mentors.
If you have questions about the program, please email NCFR's membership staff or call NCFR at 888-781-9331.