By Joe Courtemanche, Pathfinder Resilience Senior Mentor
How To Become A Mentor In 37 Easy Steps
As one of the Senior Mentors for Pathfinder Resilience who teaches Navigating Adversity, my friends and family have asked, “What qualifies you to mentor anyone?” Aside from the fact that they’re terrible friends and doubting family, I have an answer: “Experience and training.”
As a matter of fact, that’s what we seek in all of our mentors.
In my case, I have an AA in Law Enforcement and worked for a year as a patrol officer. Not a long career by any stretch of the imagination, but coupled with a 16-week Police Academy that was designed to destroy you and make you quit, it would be fair to say that I’ve seen some of the darker bits of the human race and experienced toxic leadership and intense stress on the street.
Combine that with 5 years in the United States Navy where I was part of a very select group of intelligence gathering types that went places and did things we’re never talking about in my lifetime, and you can fairly say that I know what that stress does to people. I’ve lost more than my share of friends and colleagues to PTSD related problems.
On the academic side I’m all over the place, but actually have a couple of certificates and degrees from assorted institutions. All contribute to the package.
That kind of varied experience and education is what we seek in our mentors. We want people who’ve actually done the job to be mentoring others in that field. Over the next few years, that challenge will be there front and center as we move into new areas of training.
Our mentors are all experienced in a front-line activity as military veterans, police, fire, dispatch, paramedic, or medical experts. While that’s a great foundation, we go much further before we make them mentors.
First of all, you have to complete the training and shine while doing it. You cannot apply for the job unless you’re already in a class. And you don’t apply, we invite you.
We look for the students who stand out among their peers. The ones who go the extra mile in their written work, the ones who are recommended by their peers or supervisors, and those who enter the class with an excellent resume and experience in coaching/leadership.
Once we identify the prospects, Dr. Thornton and a Senior Mentor conduct a telephone interview with them, and essentially grill them over their experience and scholastic performance in the course. It’s not an easy interview, and often we will go back to the candidates and talk to them a second or third time.
Satisfied with what we see, we have them mentor a class under the supervision of a Senior Mentor. Essentially, the Senior Mentor provides copies of relevant emails and written work to the mentor-in-training to see how they would respond. We also ask them to write the weekly emails to the class, introducing the concepts for the upcoming week. Insight into the material, and a thorough review of what is coming up is a critical component to the learning journey.
The final piece of the puzzle is the audit. Our mentors keep track of student progress and correspond with any who are falling behind. This is crucial in providing motivation to students who are having difficulties, and is a good indicator of how observant the mentor is in the classroom.
Once the class is over, the prospective mentor is subjected to another interview with Dr. Thornton and a Senior Mentor. This one is a lot tougher and calls for a great deal of introspection.
If they pass the process, they will be certified and given classes to supervise. Not all candidates survive the process, and even after certification there is an ongoing review of their activity and style in working with students. Being a mentor is subject to constant supervision.
Given that model, we know we’re turning out top-shelf mentors for this program.
Do you want to recommend a potential mentor? If so, let us know by dropping us an email: email@example.com.