Mentoring is a professional activity, a trusted relationship, a meaningful commitment. The origins of mentoring can be traced back to ancient Greece as a technique to impart to young men important social, spiritual, and personal values. Mentoring as we know it today is loosely modeled on the historical craftsman/apprentice relationship, where young people learned a trade by shadowing the master artisan. In the mid-70s, corporate America redefined mentoring as a career development strategy. The concept of mentoring faculty and administrators is relatively new to higher education and rare in information technology circles, where staff professional development often takes the form of technical manuals and certifications. It is precisely this type of support organization, however, that needs a strong foundation of mentoring to build and retain a healthy workforce that can react quickly to change and can develop, adapt, and regenerate itself over time.
Potential mentors can be found in a variety of ways. A few large institutions have formal mentoring programs. Others have formal, IT-specific mentoring programs. An organization's human resources department can often provide information on both internal and external mentoring opportunities. Outside the organization, professional associations such as EDUCAUSE, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), and various other technical and local networking groups can help locate potential mentors. Another method is using mailing lists and online resources to identify people with specific expertise and experience. Finally, think creatively in identifying mentors. Ask friends, family, and colleagues for personal referrals. Advice can be found anywhere, not just in one field or institution. 2b1af7f3a8