Mentoring Matters at UCAR

By AJ Lauer
04/04/2016 - 12:00pm

On March 10th, CISL Outreach Services Group and the NCAR Diversity, Education, and Outreach office sponsored a talk called “Mentoring Matters” by Dr. Michael Steven Williams. Dr. Williams is on the faculty at the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, CUNY. His research focuses on student socialization and mentoring, and the impact of specialized institutions such as historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

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Dr. Michael Steven Williams laughs during his talk on March 10 (photo: AJ Lauer)

Dr. Williams first asked the twenty attendees to define mentoring for themselves, and then delved into the literature and best mentoring practices. The talk focused on using social cognitive theory to motivate and set expectations for student performance, and the impact of mentoring relationships on both mentor and mentee. 

Rachel McCrary, a project scientist in CISL, said, "Dr. Williams' Mentoring Matters talk highlighted how important the role of a mentor can be in a student's academic career path.  He reaffirmed that my role as a mentor goes beyond career support - teaching protégés about research and helping them network in our field - and includes a counseling component which can help enhance my protégés' sense of competency and fulfillment.  Based on Dr. William's suggestions, I plan to have a more open dialogue with my protégés about expectations on both sides of the mentorship relationship."  

After the presentation, Dr. Williams said, “Responsibly and intentionally mentoring students and professionals is a critical part of developing our nation’s next generation of scientists. I hope that the theoretical and practical information I shared during my visit is only the beginning of many critical conversations about the impact of mentoring in this space. I was impressed by the clear dedication of the staff to improving their skills for the sake of their protégés.”

Dr. Williams had a few specific suggestions for UCAR staff: set guidelines and clear outcomes from an internship experience; plan for maintaining relationships after the formal mentoring has ended; and don't be afraid to ask for help if an intern brings a question or request that you are unable to assist with.

Dr. Williams also provided a recommended reading list about mentoring topics for NCAR/UCAR staff. If you would like a copy of that list, please contact AJ Lauer (ajlauer@ucar.edu).