Young engineers, fresh out of college and excited
to get working on Idahos vast transportation system, sometimes
find themselves at a loss for direction, no matter how ambitious
or well-schooled they might be.
After a successful trial run in 2002, ITD has officially
adopted a mentoring program to provide those eager, yet inexperienced,
EITs (Engineer in Training) with veteran counterparts to guide
them through the system, listen to their concerns, teach them
the language and be their friends.
of a Mentoring Relationship
by Jackie Lemieux, TechHelp)
of roles and responsibilities
of being trusted by the organization
to 'give something back'
challenge of advising rather than directing
chance to develop someone else
to learn from someone more experienced
to understand what breeds 'success'
confidential, nonjudgmental sounding board
to 'dry-run' critical decisions
(16 advantages of a mentoring program):
aid employee retention
overcome learning curves
manage organizational change (e.g. mergers and acquisitions,
bridge competency gaps
rejuvenate mid-career managers
convert training to results
facilitate internal hiring and transfers
encourage personal individual growth
increase the representation of minority interests
develop current managers
provide succession and for the development of emerging
assist employees obtain formal qualification
EITs might be faced with a certain situation theyre
not familiar with, said District 6 assistant engineer
Brent Jennings, who coordinates the mentoring program. This
program gives them the opportunity to go to somebody in a
mentoring relationship and ask if theyve faced this
before and how they handled it.
The mentoring program was spawned from the Securing-Managing-Retaining-Resources-Team
(SMRRT), which was charged with devising strategies to retain
employees. Mentoring emerged as one of these methods, and
in 2001 Jennings, along with then ITD training specialist
Jackie Lemieux, began developing the pilot program for implementation
in May 2002.
We realized that informal mentoring is something that
goes on all the time the mentoring program formalizes
that, said Lemieux, who now is a consultant to the program
The not-for-profit organization operates through the states
universities to provide technical assistance, training and
information to strengthen the competitiveness of Idaho manufactures.
One of the wonderful things about the program is that
there are benefits not only for the protégé,
but also for the mentor who comes away with tremendous benefits,
Mentors from the 2002 pilot program attest to the positive
experience pairing with a protégé provides:
District 4 Resident Engineer Walter Burnside found that being
a mentor prompted him to think through his processes with
more detail to ensure that he was providing his protégé,
District 4 EIT Josh Jacobson, with the most useful information
It wasnt a one-way learning situation; it was
a two-way learning situation. Knowing what to tell them is
the hardest part, and then as you go though that, it tends
to make the person thats doing the mentoring think about
the steps youre going through. What are the points
Im trying to drive home? Burnside said.
People wont fall through the cracks now (if they
have a natural mentor). It gives EITs that opportunity
to learn the culture of ITD.
Jacobson echoes his mentors thoughts on understanding
the culture, from ITD acronyms to filling out a time sheet.
Learning how the ITD world functions differently from a young
engineers previous experiences proved to be an incredible
Its helpful to have someone guide you through,
and its good to be able to go to somebody in confidence,
somebody to rely on while you get your feet wet, said
For mentor Kathleen Slinger, ITDs bridge inspection
engineer, and protégé Monica Crider, an EIT
working in District 3 right-of-way, the program never really
concluded. Although it officially ended in May 2003, the pair
continues to meet unofficially on a regular basis.
Kathleen has been able to help me with personnel and
working around different types of personalities, and we became
friends because of the partnering, said Crider. I
talk to her about numerous issues at work and how things have
worked for her in similar situations.
Kimbol Allen, a District 4 engineer and former pilot program
protégé, also found great benefit in learning
how the ITD system works the buzzwords, and the internal
But he also gained a unique perspective on the differences
between district thinking and Headquarters
thinking after been paired with John Collins, roadway design
area engineer, who works out of Headquarters in Boise. Allen
worked out of the District 4 office in Shoshone.
It was good to spend time with someone outside the
district and find out about how Headquarters worked,
said Allen. He helped me with some of my career goals
and career path. It helped to understand the difference between
the technical side and the management side of ITD.
Allen and Collins made arrangements to meet about once a
month. Collins would head south and take a tour of the construction
jobs that Allen was working on, or Allen would take a trip
to Boise to gain on-site tips from Collins experience.
The program is helpful from the standpoint that it
gives somebody who is relatively new at the department
positive comments from someone who has been around a little
bit longer. It can even help to instill a positive vision
toward the department and about the career opportunities that
are here, Collins said.
The mentoring program is now in search of more ITD veterans
who would like to make a positive difference, not only in
the career of an EIT but also in their own career.
Participation details will be forthcoming to engineers who
meet the qualifications for mentoring. Those qualifications
include length of time with the department and position level.
Orientation is scheduled for March 23, 24. For more information,
contact Brent Jennings in District 6.