Power of CREW

May 19, 2019
Written by: CREW-St. Louis

Mentorship Program Kicks Off Second Year

Counsel. Reward. Elevate. Women.

Launched last year, the Mentorship Program enters its second year with a full head of steam. Most importantly, the program is fueled by the expertise and experience of several mentors and the many questions and anticipation of mentees.

While mentoring always occurred organically within the organization, Lynn Goessling, 2018 President, pushed for a formal program. The time was right since CREW Network Foundation developed materials for chapters to utilize. CREW-St. Louis is one of the pioneers in this program, joining four other sister chapters in instituting Mentoring Programs. 

Of course, lessons were learned last year, ensuring that the program moves forward with best practices shared by both CREW Network Foundation and the participating chapters.

CREW-St. Louis certainly employed some new strategies to make this year’s program even better. Chief among these were a revised survey for members to participate as either mentors or mentees.

“We revamped the application to streamline the process,” says Christy Merdinian, who chairs the Mentoring Program Task Force. “We used Survey Monkey instead of a PDF file, which was easier for applicants and for the task force since this easily converted to an Excel spreadsheet.”  And questions answered by applicants were revised to better match mentors with mentees. “We could see everything clearly on one spreadsheet,” Christy notes. “We knew when a mentor or mentee preferred not to be paired with someone in the same discipline or perhaps they did. We also got a quick picture of what each mentee wanted to gain from a mentor. All of this was designed to better ensure successful outcomes for both the mentee and mentor.”

Applications took place in March and the task force was able to make solid decisions on 12 pairings of mentors and mentees before they met in early April. 

The big launch came on May 1 when all the pairings met. Steve Epner, past chairman of the Gateway Venture Mentoring Service and faculty member in St. Louis University’s graduate business program, returned as the guest speaker. An author and lifelong entrepreneur, Steve addressed the 2018 Mentoring Program class and once again provided some great insights on the mentoring process.

Now, the mentors and mentees will meet typically monthly to benefit from the program. Mentors find it a great way to give back and mentees receive invaluable advice and guidance.

Christy encourages more members to step up as mentors. “It’s really important to understand the positive impact you can have by sharing your experience and expertise with a member looking for support.”

This became clear last year to a mentee when she benefited from her mentor. This year, she signed on as a mentor, Christy says. “I would love to share my life experiences and help another person grow in their personal/career life and give back what I got out of the Mentoring Program,” she notes in her application to serve as a mentor.  

“We also have more applications from mentees than mentors, although we were fortunate this year to match nearly everyone. We just needed one more mentor to ensure every mentee had someone to look to for guidance,” Christy adds.

She also implores all members to understand the importance of CREW Network Foundation since funding allowed it to develop the Mentoring Program. The comprehensive Mentor Guide uses four modules – Engage, Envision, Empower and Expand – to establish a suggested structure for mentors and mentees. The various teams are encouraged to use the modules as needed or to find their own way to achieve success. 

This year’s program runs through April 2020, and then look forward for Mentoring Program 3.0 with applications going out right before this year’s program ends.

Special thanks to Member Services for overseeing the Mentoring Program. Samantha Hurrell and Sarah Luem serve as Chair and Co-chair, respectively. The committee’s Task Force also deserves credit. Members of the Task Force are Christy, Erin Valentine, Stacey Kamps, Vicki Dolan, Michelle Yates, Sharon Henderson and Lynn Goessling.