WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — More than 200 military members and civilian employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are taking advantage of an opportunity to develop new and/or different professional skills and perspectives, demonstrate strengths and explore potentials now that the 2021 Team Wright-Patt Mentoring Program has kicked off.
A virtual event with 100-plus people checking in Jan. 12 opened the yearlong initiative, held via CVR by the Education and Training Section’s Workforce Development division. Guest speakers included Gregory Leingang, 88th Air Base Wing vice director,
Mentor and mentee successes from the 2020 program also were highlighted.
The Education and Training Section will provide quarterly checkpoints, regular mentoring tips and tools as well as survey opportunities for feedback, said LeAnna Gorman, a management analyst for the 88th Force Support Squadron’s Workforce Development division.
The mentoring program’s objective is to develop potential in people and create future professionals. While fostering mentoring relationships, participants will gain experiential knowledge, an understanding about various careers, and be able to make informed decisions about education, training and career-related issues.
By understanding the duty of others, the participants will build a well-rounded understanding of their role within the overall Air Force mission. The program will conclude in December.
Leingang noted that mentoring relationships can occur informally or formally. Sometimes formally structured programs aren’t as successful because “you just can’t force relationships,” he said.
“Conversely, an informal approach can leave mentoring to chance and it may or may not happen.”
Both criticisms are valid, but he advised mentors and mentees to look for and take advantage of both types of mentoring opportunities as they proceed in their careers. People also need to have reasonable expectations of both sides, Leingang said.
“Don’t go into this thinking you’re going to meet your next best friend. You don’t need for there to be a deep, personal connection for mentoring to have tremendous value,” he said.
He advised mentees to realize and be grateful their mentor is giving their time and energy to help them, and that they may be told things of a critical nature.
“You shouldn’t be expecting and hoping when going to the mentor what you want to hear,” he added. “You need to go into it open to the idea your mentor is really on to something.”
Mentors can grow as individuals during the mentoring program, too, Leingang said.
“You can develop your skills in guiding the workforce,” he said. “Recognize that the workforce comes in all shapes and sizes. Recognize that everyone is different and really take the time to understand your mentee’s unique path. Tailor your advice toward the mentee’s unique experiences and desires.”
Leingang complimented the CVR attendees for their participation.
“To the mentees: You are taking responsibility for your own careers by actively seeking information and assistance here, and that’s absolutely the right first step toward positive growth and career development,” he said.
“For the mentors, it’s a wonderful thing to give back to our workforce. You’re paying it forward because presumably at one time you benefited from mentoring yourself. Also, don’t underestimate how you can grow by being a leader and an influencer as part of this process.”
Rogers discussed how diversity and being receptive to diverse perspectives can positively impact someone’s career. The mentoring program, both formal and informal, is monumentally important to Wright-Patt, said Sherita Smith, a human resources specialist with the 88 FSS, Workforce Development.
“There’s more interest because I believe people understand the need for connection, building relationships and adding to their skills,” she continued.
The Education and Training Section wants to ensure mentors and mentees know they have assistance throughout the year-long program, Smith said.
“They have our complete support, so if anyone is having an issue getting in touch with their mentor or mentee, we can reach out and provide assistance to make that connection easier,” she said.
A mentoring resource that can be used in addition to the program may be found at MyVector, an enterprise solution supporting force development and mentoring across the Air Force. It supports individual Airmen, career field managers and development teams.
More than 120,000 Airmen have registered in MyVector, including more than 15,000 who created a mentor profile.
Contact Gorman at firstname.lastname@example.org or Smith at email@example.com for more information.