Mentoring Program Q & A


What is mentoring?

Mentoring can be defined as the formal pairing of a less experienced individual, or a protégé, with a more experienced one, or a mentor.

What is the purpose of the APEGGA Mentoring Program?

The program transfers work-related soft skills. These are the skills members have said they need from a source beyond their jobs. Members have a technical education, and they receive technical supervision and coaching on the job. There are also opportunities for technical courses through tech societies, equipment manufacturers and others.

Soft skill guidance, however, is not always as easy to find.

How important are soft skills?

Very important. In today’s workplace, people are often hired for their technical skills. But they’re often retained and promoted — or released — for reasons tied to soft skills.

Conference Board of Canada surveys reveal that employers want people with strong communication, teamwork and organizational skills. Today’s workforce also needs to be competent in business writing and negotiating. These are some of the skills that form the foundation of our mentoring program.

What is a mentor?

Mentors are experienced professionals who believe they have the skill strengths that make it possible to coach a less experienced person. This does not necessarily mean they are “senior” in the more traditional sense.

For example, a couple of fourth-year members-in-training who developed their skills early through co-op or other work experience are mentoring first-year MITs.

We also have internationally educated professionals mentoring locally educated MITs. In some cases, young locally educated professionals are mentoring internationally educated grads decades older than they are. These arrangements are working very successfully.

The program even includes a few pairs based on cross-professional matches — geoscientists with engineers. Potential pairs are always given this information before they consent to a match.

What is a protégé?

A protégé is anyone who requires coaching in a particular soft skill or skills.

Can a mentor also be a protégé under the APEGGA program?

Yes. The two categories aren’t mutually exclusive.

Some protégés have moved from other countries and bring with them multiple degrees and 15 years of experience — and are mentoring in the areas they’re strong in. They may, for example, be registered as protégés in skill areas that will help them adjust to professionalism in their new country.

In Pool B, which focuses on employment and career skills for unemployed professionals, we have registrants from Canada and several other countries. This pool offers a tremendous opportunity for established professionals to mentor newcomers from their own or other cultures and language groups.

Most protégés in this group, when thanking the APEGGA Manager of Professional Development, say they’ll return to the program — as a mentor. They want to give back to the program.

Who drives the program?

Protégés do. It is critical for the protégé to take the initiative to make the first contact, to enter plans into the mentoring system, and to ask for assistance when it’s required.

How does mentoring take place?

It is a very human undertaking. Remember the people who coached and supported you as an MIT or a young professional? That is the kind of non-judgmental coaching mentors will need to provide. They need to advise and guide their protégés, and not do all the thinking or work.

How does matching work?

Our mentoring software allows us to match you based on compatibility — the thinking and communication styles that show up in a tool completed during registration.

We also try to match skills to needs. For example, a protégé who needs help with teamwork will not be matched to a mentor who lacks skills in that area.

We try to accommodate preferences for matches in the same city. When possible, we also match on the basis of preferences for particular levels of experience.

We provide each person with a nameless profile of a potential partner. If both sides agree, we move forward with the match.

If your match doesn’t work despite your best efforts, we will re-match you.

Are there tools and resources available to help mentors and protégés?

Yes — a 70-page mentoring handbook and personal contact from the Manager of Professional Development, who is coordinator of the program. Also, we have matching software that helps put compatible people together.

The handbook can be read or downloaded from the mentoring area of the APEGGA website. There’s a reading list in the handbook and in the software.

Studies indicate that the greatest factor in the success of mentoring programs is the degree of formalization. APEGGA’s mentoring software prompts registrants to record a schedule for interacting – a mentoring agreement. This is a useful but optional tool.

Templates prompt protégés to record written goals and objectives. The plan facilitates the measurement of progress in skill development.

Some pairs feel they have met their needs without formal plans. However, pairs with recorded goals document more significant gains.

The software also has a Q and A section and online scenarios.

Nancy Toth, as coordinator, is available to help with any challenges. The software is user-friendly, but if you do run into a technical glitch, Ms. Toth will arrange troubleshooting for you.

Ms. Toth is also there for other difficulties, such as a busier schedule at work than anticipated or trouble reaching your protégé or mentor.

How do I become involved or find out more?

Visit www.apegga.org/members/Mentoring/toc.html, or contact Nancy Toth, MA, Manager of Professional Development at 780-426-3990, ext. 2811, or ntoth@apegga.org.