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Student Mentoring Program

Program Guidelines and Information

MAC initiated the mentoring program during the Spring, 2000 MAC meeting in Atlanta. In 2001 about 17 members of MAC volunteered to mentor about 30 students who were the 2001-02 recipients of MAC-AIChE scholarships. We were very pleased that in 2001 there were three non-members of MAC(L.S. Fan, Bruce Finlayson, and Thomas Marerro-who later became a member of MAC)who volunteered as mentors. Since 2002, the mentoring program has been supported by many members of AIChE as mentors. Thus the mentors, since 2002, are members of AIChE not limited to the MAC members. This program has benefited from similar programs developed by ACS and AIChE and it will continue to evolve as we gain experience.

I like to acknowledge the information that I got from AIChE Student Chapters on the AIChE Gold Mentoring Program via Debbie Beaudreau (http://www.aiche.org/students/chapters/mentoring.htm) and from the Mentoring Coordinator of the Minority Affairs Committee of ACS, Zaida Morales-Martinez when the program started in 2001. Debbie Beaudreau is no longer with AIChE and Zaida Morales-Martinez as far as I am aware is still involved with ACS scholarship program.

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The Benefits of Mentoring

MAC-AIChE’s Mentoring Program matches recipients of MAC scholarship with MAC-AIChE professional members in order to provide students with the support and guidance they need for a successful college career.

Both mentors and students gain from the program. In addition to technical information for research and exams, students receive first-hand knowledge of what’s expected of them after graduation. Mentors gain the satisfaction of passing their experience on to the next generation of chemical engineers.

Mentor's Responsibilities

1. A mentor in general will serve as an advisor, career counselor, a listener,a friend,a  tutor where convenient, a sounding board, a motivator, a chaperone, an internship/job referral where possible, and promoter of the chemical engineering profession to the student.

 2. A mentor agrees to correspond with a student for a period of one academic year (September—May). The frequency of these messages is up to the individuals involved, but once a week or every other week is recommended. Most communication will take place via e-mail. The relationship can be terminated by a mutual agreement or understanding between the mentor and the student and clearly communicated to both parties. When this is the case, the mentor should inform the MAC-AIChE mentoring program coordinator of  such development. 

3. If the student and mentor live close to each other, in-person meetings can be arranged. Monthly or bimonthly dinners at local restaurants might be considered to augment e-mails correspondences. Attending local conferences and seminars could also prove beneficial. Where possible, the mentor can arrange for the student to visit his/her place of work to introduce the student to the real world. This is not mandatory.

4. A mentor must be willing to respond in a timely manner to the student’s correspondence. If, for some reason, the mentor is unable to do so, a note should be sent to the student explaining the conflict and stating when the mentor plans to respond. It’s important for the mentor to keep the student informed of all vacation, business trips, and other times when communications may be delayed.

5. A mentor must be willing to take the initiative and suggest topics for discussion. He or she should be forthright with the student and describe both the benefits and disadvantages of working in the chemical engineering profession.

6. A mentor is intended to be a guide and a source of information, but not a surrogate parent. If a mentor feels the student partner is having personal difficulties, the mentor should not try to advise the student beyond professional issues. Instead, should direct the student to university counselors or other trained professionals.

Student's Responsibilities

1. A student must be willing to correspond with his or her mentor for a period of one academic year (September—May). Students should keep in mind that their mentor has volunteered their time to aid the students. Most have heavy workloads and other professional commitments, but that does not mean that students should feel shy or intimidated. The mentors have agreed to help. They can learn as much about cutting-edge innovations and fresh ways of thinking as the students can learn from them.

Students should always maintain a mature, professional demeanor toward their mentor. Respond to emails promptly or write a brief note when a complete response is not possible. Respect the mentor’s privacy and avoid any overly personal questions regarding their private life. Remember that this is a professional relationship. The relationship can be terminated by a mutual agreement/understanding between the mentor and the student and clearly communicated to both parties. When this is the case, the student should remind the mentor to inform the MAC-AIChE mentoring program coordinator of  such development. 

2. Students should be honest with their mentors about what they expect from the relationship. What are their future goals?  What are their strongest subjects? What are their weakest? How do they think the mentor can help? It’s important for the student to ask questions, but it’s equally important for the student to be a good listener and accept constructive criticism.

3. It should be clear from the start that the students should not use mentors to find jobs. Mentors may offer input into the student’s resume or suggest interviewing tips, but they should not be pressured for a job. AIChE has a fully staffed Career Services Department ready to assist students with their job search. If the mentor knows of internship opportunities or job openings within the company for which the student might be qualified, then the student is free to pursue such opportunities. However, finding the student a job is not the primary function of the mentor.