Mentorship Program Information for Volunteers
The NOLS Instructor Association created the Mentorship Program to help NOLS employees seek advice from their more senior peers, not only in navigating NOLS staffing and career opportunities, but also in shaping their direction at the school and reaching their desired balance of work at NOLS and beyond.
The goal is to help fill a gap in mentorship that has been identified across the school. While faculty receive regular and focused short-term mentorship from co-instructors and long-term guidance from the Staffing Office and Program Supervisors, new instructors often lack longer-term, personalized mentorship from their more senior peers. Seasonal interns and location staff often struggle to navigate ways to advance their careers at NOLS and connect with the right people to support their goals. The NIA Mentorship Program provides a list of vetted, qualified senior employees who are happy to be contacted by peers for advice and conversation on the process of becoming successful at NOLS. The goal is that these contacts are maintained and developed over time, so that each mentee has a reliable mentor who knows them and understands their progression.
The recommended qualifications for volunteer mentors are one or more of the following:
Current NOLS senior field faculty who has worked a course in the past two years (minimum 100 field weeks is a guideline, not a rule)
Annual Faculty Plan (AFP) participants
Current NOLS administrator (salaried staff or administrators, program supervisors, managers, etc.)
Former NOLS employee with an interest in mentoring NOLS employees who are seeking opportunities outside of NOLS for work in shoulder seasons, additional education or trainings, or a career change.
A clear understanding of one’s role at the NIA and at NOLS. Mentors will not formally speak for NOLS or any NOLS office, and should be able to point their mentees in the right direction within the NOLS administration when needed.
A commitment to responding in a timely and professional manner (1-3 days) to mentorship requests and contacts from current mentees, and to consistently providing an email and phone auto-responder when in the field or otherwise out of contact.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the time commitment?
Mentors are expected to arrange one meeting (in person or virtually) with each mentee on a quarterly basis. Beyond this minimum requirement, they can commit as much or as little time as is needed. Mentors will not be expected to take on more mentees than they can comfortably handle, and will be encouraged to decline new mentees if they are too busy. Mentors will be asked to commit thoughtful, caring, and positive advice, rather than large amounts of time.
Is this a paid job?
No. The time commitment should be low and should not impinge on mentors’ work or leisure activities. Mentorship will be a responsibility, but it should be enjoyable and fulfilling, not stressful. The goal is for mentors themselves to enjoy playing an important role in supporting the careers of new employees.
Who is in charge of this program?
Marissa Bieger is the NIA mentorship coordinator. Marissa will be the contact person for all mentors.
Will I choose my mentees, or will they choose me?
There is a list of current mentors with brief bios and photos on the NIA website. Potential mentees will choose a mentor to contact based on their bio, or will asked to be placed by Marissa. After an initial conversation (or at any time), mentors and mentees should feel free to discontinue the relationship if it is not a good fit. Mentors should communicate with their mentee and with Marissa if they choose to discontinue the relationship.
Do I need to be a member of the NIA to volunteer as a mentor?
No. We welcome any senior NOLS employee who meets the qualifications listed above and is excited to support newer employees.
As a volunteer mentor for an employee organization that is not formally a part of NOLS, who do I represent - NOLS, the NIA, or myself?
Yourself, the NIA, and the community of NOLS employees, in that order. Mentors will not represent NOLS formally, but will still play an important role at NOLS in the training, development, and retention of new employees. They will need to take care to provide correct information and to know when to step back and connect mentees directly with relevant NOLS administrators. Mentors will represent the NIA since this is an NIA program, but need not be members. A successful and positive mentorship program will be a way that senior staff, through the NIA, can support NOLS as a whole and use their unique skills and perspective to fulfill a need for the community.