Mentoring Program off to Rousing Start in 9th Year

17 10 2011

Bethany Bowles

Dan Voss

By Bethany Bowles and Dan Voss
STC Orlando Mentoring Program (M&Ms)

OPERATION 9-9-9 has begun! Our STC chapter has launched the 9th successful year of its mentoring program with 9 mentors and 9 mentees joining in a “get-to-know-you” kick-off meeting at Painted by Hue in Waterford Lakes on September 29. Everyone had the opportunity to paint his/her own ceramics as well as to partake in refreshments that included hand-made sandwiches, snacks, soft drinks, cake, and, of course, M&M’s.

For those who are less artistically inclined, it was an opportunity to step outside of their box and try something new!  And, with one notable exception, the results were quite impressive.

The mentors and mentees learned who their partners would be for this year’s program (see box). Based on the steady “buzz” of conversation amidst the flying paintbrushes, the “M&M’s” wasted no time getting started on establishing goals, objectives, and activities for their mentoring relationships, which will run through May 2012.

The mentoring program, pairing professionals in the STC Orlando Chapter with technical communication students at UCF, has had a highly successful legacy since its inception in 2003.  The model for a number of other successful mentoring programs in the Society, including a program partnering the STC-France Chapter with the University of Paris, the Orlando mentoring program—co-sponsored by the STC-Orlando Chapter and Future Technical Communicators (FTC) at UCF—has been instrumental in sustaining and enriching the dynamic partnership with the university that has been a major factor in making our chapter an acknowledged leader in the Society.

In its 9 years, the program has nurtured 70 mentor/mentee (“M&M”) relationships, many of which have blossomed into long-term professional relationships and friendships.  Mentees have received valuable assistance in job search and placement, skills development, project management, big-company “politics,” and many other areas of endeavor.  Mentors have had the immense personal satisfaction of helping new technical communicators as they enter our profession.

“Perhaps most gratifying is the fact that several former mentees have gone on to serve as mentors,” observed Dan Voss, who, with Bethany Bowles, co-manages this year’s program.  “That plus the fact that Bethany has taught me how to use Facebook.  Not how to paint coffee mugs, unfortunately, but one out of two isn’t bad.”

In past years, the mentor and mentees communication was tracked through contact logs, but this year they have been put aside in favor of Facebook. The new STC/FTC Mentorship group on Facebook is a great social networking tool which enables the M&M’s to share their progress in an interactive page. Rachael Blankenbecklor has already proudly proclaimed to our Facebook group, “I have a meeting planned for Friday with my mentor and we’re looking to go big on this project perhaps! Our first endeavor is to possibly make a short presentation for our local STC chapter about the MySTC website.”

Inspired by the variety of suggested activities, largely contributed by last year’s program coordinator, Patricia Cruz, several M&M pairs have already gotten down to work (see box below).

For example, Rachael Blankenbecklor and Erika Higgins are undertaking an ambitious project: developing a user tutorial for the new MySTC web platform—the need for which has already been identified at the Society level. Debra Johnson and Jessica Campbell have already arranged a job shadowing.

In order to encourage the M&M’s to post on the Facebook group, Bethany proposed a contest. The first mentor/mentee pair to post on Facebook what project from the M&M Bonding page they are working on, and then show proof of completion, will become the proud owners of an M&M mug, compliments of Gail Lippincott. Confident in the success of her project with her mentee, Erika Higgins already issued a challenge: “Try to keep up with us fellow M&Ms. The mug is ours.”

             OPERATION 9-9-9: Success!!!

The Line-Up:  This Year’s M&M’s


  • Rachael Blankenbecklor and Erika Higgins
  • Jessica Campbell and Debra Johnson
  • Jennifer Blackwell and Mark Wray
  • Aidan Hitchingham and Mary Burns
  • Rashelle Oberle and Diane Heald
  • Steven Harbor and David Coverston
  • Zachary Sawyer and W.C. Wiese
  • Brittney Adams and Alex Garcia
  • Bethany Bowles and Dan Voss

Program managers:  Bethany Bowles and Dan Voss


Meet the Mentors and Mentees (After the Jump):

Alex Garcia and Brittney Adams discuss their common love of Edgar Allan Poe.

Dan Voss and Bethany Bowles benefit from the artistic talents of Rachael Blankenbecklor in the absence of her mentor, Erika Higgins.

David Coverston and Steven Harbor work on their pottery while getting to know each other.

Diane Heald and Rashelle Oberle manage to look wonderfully photogenic while painting their pieces.

Mary Burns shares some surprising information with her mentee, Aidan Hitchingham.

Debra Johnson and Jessica Campbell making some ambitious choices in their painting that led to beautiful results.

Zach Sawyer gives a thumbs-up while his piece is drying, as his mentor W.C. Wiese shares some words of wisdom.




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