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Mentoring: You Might Be A Mentor Already and Not Even Know It

Written by: Salvador Bentolila
Published on: Jul 22, 2021

Image credit: fizkes/Shutterstock

As soon as I found out about ASCE’s new mentoring platform, ASCE Mentor Match, I became interested in the idea of mentoring. Throughout my college and early-career years, I was repeatedly reminded of the importance of having a mentor.

Mentors are great because, most probably, they’ve already gone down the path you want to go, so when you are uncertain what your next step should be, mentors can give advice based on their personal experience. This is a huge advantage! Think about it, it is almost like having a crystal ball that allows you to see which decisions will get you where. At least that’s how I think about it.

Now imagine being the person at the other end. Imagine being this “crystal ball” for others. As a mentee, one receives, and as a mentor, one gives. To me, there is even more value and impact in giving than receiving. Giving is something that persists and can have long-lasting returns.

With ASCE Mentor Match, I immediately saw the opportunity in becoming a mentor. I used to believe that being a mentor implied having many more years of experience under your belt. In reality, all you need to become a mentor is to know a little bit more than someone about a particular topic and then be ready to pass on the knowledge!

ASCE’s platform is great because it allows you to search for potential mentees based on common interests they might share with you. What’s even better is that the topics are not all directly related to engineering, so if you are at an earlier stage in your career but you just went through the exhaustive process of getting a job, building a resume or getting your P.E. license, you can mentor specifically about those things. Even topics like retirement, leadership, starting your own firm and using technology are possible to give mentorship on.

I personally have been mentoring two people since the beginning of the year: one focused on relocating and the other focused on job applications. Upon formalizing a relationship through the platform, one can set the commitment time at anywhere from 3 to 12 months. Within that period, it’s really up to the mentor and mentee to decide how, when and how often you’d like to get in touch. From my experience, I believe it is best to set recurring bi-weekly or monthly calls rather than getting in touch on an as-needed basis. The former method has proven to be a lot more effective and builds stronger bonds in the relationship.

I’ve also experienced that even though there is an assigned mentor and mentee in the relationship, sometimes the roles can reverse! Oftentimes, different topics come up that suddenly the mentee is teaching you about. That is another great benefit of mentoring. The information exchange can come from both ends.

In summary, I definitely recommend incorporating some level of mentorship into your lives. It is very rewarding to know that someone you have mentored has succeeded or accomplished what they wanted. If you have any questions about the ASCE Mentor Match Program or simply want to get in touch with me, feel free to leave a comment below.

Salvador is  currently a Civil Engineer, specialized in Water Resources. He currently works as a Water/Wastewater engineer at AECOM and has experience with design and development of water supply, irrigation and wastewater systems.