Benefits of the IPA Student Mentorship Program

The IPA Membership Committee launched the Student Mentorship program in the Fall of 2020. The primary goal of this program is to increase student engagement in IPA early in their doctoral training by building relationships between current members and doctoral students in psychology training programs. An additional goal for this program is to promote professional endeavors of students and interns within the state of Iowa through their increased engagement. All student members of IPA are provided with the opportunity to be connected with a mentor. At present, IPA has 30 student members, and 35 IPA members have volunteered to serve as mentors.

Over the past month, mentors and mentees participating in this program were invited to share about their experiences, both to highlight the benefits, as well as to identify aspects of the program that may need some reworking. Thank you to those of you who responded!

First, many of those surveyed expressed an appreciation for the opportunity to connect with others through this program, including by learning about specific individuals’ backgrounds and the unique experiences they bring to IPA, as well as hearing about how graduate training has changed over time. Some individuals identified specific benefits, such as being able to talk with a mentor about preparing for the internship application process.

“This past semester, I applied to internships and submitted my rankings and it was really nice to have a mentor to talk about their experiences with internship and how they decided on their rankings, especially because they weren't my direct supervisor or from my training program. I really appreciated being able to talk about the application process with someone who has gone through it and can ask me questions about things like training goals that I had not thought about before. I also found that my mentor was very supportive around the time of my interviews and served as a great "trial run" for getting to know someone completely online and just how to present myself during interviews. She helped me feel like interviews were less scary. My mentor also was really great at helping me decide how to rank my internship sites. She was someone with whom I was able to share my genuine reactions, whereas I felt I had to be overly positive when speaking to my major professor. I can honestly say that my internship application experience was made much better by my mentor and her guidance.” –IPA Mentee

Mentors reported that they have been able to support their student in connecting with additional resources or psychologists in the state who share professional interests with the students. Others noted that, since connecting with a student mentee, the student has become more active in IPA through committee participation. Another mentor shared that they have benefitted from their mentee’s enthusiasm, and specifically enjoy the opportunity to have conversations about professional topics and discussing visions for career growth.

“Having conversations about professional topics and discussing how a person sees their career growing has been very rewarding. It is also helpful to hear about how training, approaches to interviewing, and different pathways can shape next steps for someone. I have enjoyed the opportunity to connect and hear about someone’s enthusiasm toward the field.”  --IPA Mentor

A few mentors focused on how this program benefits IPA more broadly through gaining an understanding of contemporary interests and needs of current graduate students. Mutual benefits were described about the mentor becoming more aware of how the IPA community can contribute to the success of graduate students and early career psychologists through the development of additional resources and tools, while the mentee may benefit from reflecting with a mentor on opportunities that fit with a person’s desired career path that are available but may not be readily apparent without the support of someone with more experience.

“Reflecting on how we (as a community) can provide others with extra resources/tools to be successful has been beneficial.”  --IPA Mentor

The primary challenge identified was initial difficulty connecting with assigned student mentees. Some mentees have either not responded to their mentor’s emails, or they have expressed not needing or not having time to participate in the mentorship program. Additionally, some mentees have reported a desire to engage in this process, but were unsure how to best take advantage of this time and resource.

“It has gone well to schedule zoom meetings every month or so and set the date at the end of the current call, that way it is for sure on each of our schedules. I looked forward to our meetings and getting to check-in!”  --IPA Mentee

A few ideas were presented for improving the program. As one mentee noted, scheduling regular check-in times with their mentor helped to ensure that they both made time to develop the relationship. It was also recommended that students and mentors could be provided with tips on how they can benefit from this program. A couple of respondents suggested a system of having mentees opt into the program rather than being automatically assigned a mentor upon joining IPA, which may increase the likelihood of the student mentor showing active engagement in the program. Likewise, there was a suggestion of matching mentees and mentors based on shared professional interests or goals. Student respondents had some creative suggestions for growing this program, such as potentially incorporating the opportunity to shadow the mentor at work to gain experience and familiarity with different work settings and interdisciplinary teams. Additionally, there was a recommendation to facilitate opportunities for social engagement between mentors and mentees.

“I would have like a full zoom call with all the mentors and all the students involved to get to network and just connect with the other students of IPA. This could involve like an icebreaker game with us and our mentors on a team for trivia or some other game, just something that could highlight some team building!” –IPA Mentee

This is very useful feedback that the IPA Membership Committee will take under advisement. Plans are already underway to host a mentor/mentee social event in Fall 2021. We also encourage mentors and mentees to connect at IPA conferences and trainings, particularly as we begin to resume in-person events.

“I think all the current efforts to connect and to seek input have been outstanding.” – IPA Mentor

More information about the IPA Student Mentorship Program is available here on the IPA website, including expectations of mentors and mentees, and a list of potential discussion questions. If you would like to serve as an IPA mentor, or if you have any questions or comments regarding this program, please contact Alissa Doobay at [email protected].



Share this post:

Comments on "Benefits of the IPA Student Mentorship Program"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment