Did you ever want career advice, but had no one to ask? Needed insight about informational interviews, but did not want to rely on the Internet?
The RAPS Washington, DC/Baltimore Chapter hosted a "Mentor-Mentee: Match Making" event to bring together those seeking information with those who have it. Fourteen RAPS members participated at the RAPS training center in Rockville, MD on 21 June 2012.
These individuals, representing the academic, not-for-profit, federal and commercial sectors, had the opportunity to engage with senior level professionals from a variety of organizations and professional disciplines to exchange ideas and discuss a variety of career-related topics.
Participants formed small groups to discuss the first topic, best practices for preparing resumes. Mentors provided insight with respect to content, format and types of information to include.
Each mentee was asked to identify one takeaway from this session to share with the group. Recommendations included keeping information concise and to the point, focusing on pertinent experience using the appropriate terminology, including a summary statement to highlight skills and value to potential employers, and emphasizing details.
Securing and preparing for informational interviews was the topic of the second exercise. Mentors provided guidance on finding professionals who may be able to advise a mentee on career strategy, and on the best ways to contact these individuals.
Mentors also provided guidance on what to expect during an informational interview and suggestions on how to appropriately follow up. Takeaways from the second session included being respectful of the individual's time, sending thank-you notes promptly, and being flexible about scheduling meetings at times other than work hours, such as over lunch or during a coffee break.
The final exercise involved the mentors sharing their thoughts about the characteristics and traits they look for in potential employees. Mentees were advised to be prepared and proactive, to show willingness to learn and to utilize new skills. Mentees were also advised to compile notes about their accomplishments on a monthly basis, which would make it easier to prepare the documentation for their annual performance reviews.
RAPS is supportive of mentoring and works to provide opportunities for junior professionals to engage with senior level professionals to gain the benefit of their wisdom. The idea for the "Mentor-Mentee: Match Making" program originated through discussion at the Career Day event hosted by the RAPS DC/Baltimore chapter in May.