Mentoring at APA

The goal for mentoring at APA is to develop the next generation of planning professionals by pairing experienced individuals with those who want to learn more about their chosen profession. APA believes that supporting healthy relationships between mentors and proteges provides immediate and long-term benefits for the individuals and the profession.

Those interested in finding a mentor through APA can participate in the Mentor Match event during the National Planning Conference or find opportunities at the local chapter level. The mentoring relationship is dynamic and flexible.

Join us in growing the community of planning professionals.

Why Mentor?

In the complex world of planning by serving in a mentoring role you are furthering the professional development and shaping the future of planning. As an advocate, a mentor can help their protege by providing knowledgeable and strategic advice, a mentor can offer perspectives that come only from experience to empower the protege to build on core capabilities or pursue an innovative opportunity; each relationship is different.

  • Claim pro bono CM credits for mentoring
  • It's a tool for succession planning
  • Provide for leadership continuity
  • Increases retention and development of knowledge and intellectual capital
  • Encourage individual growth and development.
  • Establish values
  • Gain sense of renewed purpose and/or approach to problem-solving
  • Model ethical behavior
  • Share your wisdom

Why Be a Protege?

Make the most of your student membership with APA. The classroom may not fully prepare you for the working world. Taking part in a mentoring relationship is the bridge between practical and applied knowledge. As a protege, you will grow your personal and professional knowledge and network. Your participation is a way to form a professional connection that can lead to opportunities beyond a typical job search.

  • Focuses on career path / long-term goals
  • Get advice based on real world experiences
  • Creates a lasting professional relationship
  • Gain a new approach to problem-solving
  • Provides insight from alternative areas
  • Get recommendations for specific managerial practices
  • Observe ethics in action
  • Connect with a confidant on workplace concerns

Best Practices for Mentoring from APA Chapters

APA Chapters across the country share their methods and tips for creating a successful mentoring program.

Florida Chapter — Mentor A Planning Student (MAPS)

MAPS is a mentoring program which pairs an experience planner with a first year planning student. The goal is to expose students to the actual work environments, responsibilities and interactions of professional planning positions in Florida.

Read the chapter's Mentor a Planning Student Guidebook

Contacts:

Sun Coast MAPS program: SunCoastMAPS@gmail.com

MAPS Coordinator, Sun Coast: Kathryn Gademer — 727-369-5615 or kgademer@pinellas-park.com

USF MURP: Van Linkous — 813-310-0341 or elinkous@usf.edu

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Process: Mentor volunteers are sought through the Section. The completed application is reviewed by the MAPS coordinators who makes the matches. MAPS program typically begins in October and culminates at the end of April. The structure for each mentoring experience is flexible but there are some minimum requirements that must be met. Each year, the MAPS programs are offered at Florida State University through the Capital Area Section and the University of South Florida through the APA Florida Sun Coast Section.

Format: Program is based around the universities with Masters in Planning programs. Mentors host students in a day at the office or a day in the field working on a project with a client/constituency and resume review by the mentor. Both mentors and students complete an evaluation on the mentoring experience. Mentors may or may not write a letter of recommendation for the student.

The MAPS program is for all USF students or emerging planners. A spring (mid-program) event is held for mentors & mentees; this session is designed to allow program participants to check in with one another, hear how the program is working for others, and re-invigorate participation at a mid-point in the program.

Content: MAPS mentors provide their student mentees with at least two shadowing experiences, resume review, and professional development counseling. No formal activities after first year, but participants encouraged to continue in an informal relationship if doing so seems fruitful to the mentor and student.

Notes: "It takes at least one dedicated volunteer or staff person to get the program off the ground. Try to make the program as flexible as possible so people don't feel it's overwhelming to participate."

Georgia Chapter — Traditional Mentoring

The Georgia Planning Association (GPA) is an official Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA). Over 900 member organization of professional planners and planning officials who serve Georgia's communities at all levels of government, the private sector and not-for-profit organizations.

Contact: Whitney Shephard, Program Chair, District 9 Director — 912-677-0430 or whitney@transportstudio.net

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Overview: Mentoring is offered through the Georgia Planning Association in collaboration with the Young Planners Group.

Process: Application through Survey Monkey with mentors and proteges matched by the Mentor Program Committee. GPA members at any stage of their career are encouraged to apply. Application process is open for one month beginning a week before the fall conference (date varies).

Format: Seven month program with four mandatory events to be completed between October through April. Senior mentors are grouped with planners from all levels into teams of three to four.

Participants also required to plan and attend two self-directed events as a mentor team and stay in regular contact with each another. Self-assessments or brief reading may be required. Attending the Fall and Spring conferences is encouraged, not required.

Content: Events are structured by the Mentor Program Committee as well as informal gatherings planned by individual mentor teams. It is suggested that the meeting is structured around one to two hour activities with an educational goal.

Notes: The GPA Mentor Program encourages mid-career planners to participate as both proteges and mentors. Mid-career and emerging professionals are required to pay a one-time fee of $75 to participate in the program. Budget money is allocated for the program.

"Be flexible, try it out for a year, ask for feedback after each event and evaluate at the end of the year."

Illinois chapter - mentoring program

The Illinois Chapter strives to enhance your planning skills and knowledge through a number of activities and benefits including an annual statewide conference, section meetings, planning awards, professional development assistance, a newsletter, website, and more. The APA Illinois Mentoring Program is a way to connect APA Illinois young professionals and students with our network of experienced professional planners.

Contact: Christina Bader, Mentoring Program Chair — mentoring@ilapa.org. Visit the Illinois Chapter website.

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Overview: Mentors and proteges are matched by the Mentoring Program Match Committee based on areas of interest and time/location preferences for a one-year commitment.

Process: There is a rolling application process that kicks off with the chapter meeting in February and supplemented through the year with email messaging. Most applicants are matched within the month they sign up after the "drive" in February.

Format: The formal program lasts for one year after a match is made. Ultimately, it's up to the mentor and protege pair to determine the best meeting and communication arrangement. To get the most out of the program, however, monthly communication is recommended. Meetings may range from informal coffees to invitations to professional networking events.

Content: It's recommended the mentoring pair set one or more goals early in the relationship that may be modified at any time. The protege is expected to articulate the goals he or she wishes to pursue in the first meeting; a good understanding of the desired goals is likely to lead to a more satisfactory relationship. With a well-defined goal, results can be accomplished in a shorter time. In many cases, more informal relationships continue well beyond the formal year in the Mentoring Program.

Notes: The program is set up to be a year-long commitment, but surveys indicate that few matches are using the program this way. Most connect once or twice and then the more "formal" structure ends. The chapter has started looking for more ways to get mentors and mentees together in less formal settings. For instance, sponsoring a small group lunch during the chapter conference worked very well. In the coming year they are exploring ways to work with the Chapter Diversity Committee. The program typically has more protege applications than available mentors; demand is always greater than supply.

Iowa Chapter — Mentor Match

The mission of the APA Iowa Chapter is to serve as a catalyst by developing creative organizational plans, strong leadership and professional planners within the organization, and effectuating recognition, policy and legislative action and advocacy, and outreach programs. A public relations and communications "umbrella" binds all our efforts together.

Contact: Amber Lynch — amlynch@dmgov.org

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Overview: The Mentor Match is held during the fall conference for a one-time meeting of the pair, the program is modeled after APA national.

Process: Mentors and proteges must be registered for the conference and are recruited to participate through registration materials. An email blast to all members and to area university planning programs are also used. Participants are required to register in advance and fill out a short questionnaire to describe their interests and experience. A small committee of the APA Iowa board matches the pairs and connects them via email in advance of the conference. We follow up with a brief survey after the conference to identify improvements to the program for the following year.

Format: One-time meeting scheduled during a session block at the fall conference. Some of the pairs choose to continue the relationship beyond the conference.

Content: Mentors and their proteges are each provided with information that includes practical details on meeting time and location as well as suggestions on topics and expected outcomes. Proteges are encouraged to think about goals and expectations. Many proteges ask for advice on applying for jobs, or look for more information on a particular specialty like transportation or environmental planning. Others want to learn about the difference between public sector and private sector positions.

Notes: "The mentor match program at an established event is an easy way to start. Send frequent communication in advance to attract both proteges and mentors."

Texas Chapter — Mentorship Communities

The Texas Chapter has nine regional sections. The Mission of the Texas Chapter of the APA is to advocate the profession of planning, providing expertise and processes that empower citizens to be engaged in the development and sustainability of Great Communities in Texas. Texas Emerging Planning Leaders (TxEPL) was created to enhance communication between emerging and experienced planning professionals; provide for professional advancement in the field by identifying employment opportunities and through targeted training and education; and support the advancement of the planning profession through leadership opportunities.

Contact: Chelsea Irby, TxEPL Mentorship Program Chair — 512-617-3162 or chelsea.irby@freese.com

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Overview: The Chapter's Planning Mentorship Program participants are assigned into mentorship groups identified as "Communities." Communities typically have between 6-8 members with a diversity of experience levels including: students. Each community has a leader who initiates contact and assists in organizing activities and communicating with their Community. Leaders do not need a certain level of experience, but they must commit to facilitating the group for an entire year.

Process: Interested members complete an online application. The TxEPL uses the information to create the communities from preferences on location, specializations, job experiences, or alma maters. Communities are reformed each year to ensure active participation.

Format: Application process opens in October and the first meeting occurs in November at state conference. In December of the same year, TxEPL Committee forms new mentorship communities and identifies new community leaders. In January the new mentorship communities are initiated.

Content: Events are structured by the Community Leaders with participants expected to attend a minimum of four events per year and should be willing to communicate by email or phone with other Community members. In the past the group have done activities like: happy hours, dinners, lunches, office visits, project site visits, and phone calls. There have also been success stories of younger planners finding employment from connections they made in their mentorship community.

Notes: "Learning/mentoring is not a top-down situation but rather a 360-degree experience, where each member is expected to contribute and teach in some form or fashion." Texas Chapter sections have dedicated a portion of their budgets to mentorship related events.