The Fermilab Mentoring Initiative is nearing the end of its 2016 inaugural year. Twenty-eight participants make up the 14 mentoring pairs from diverse job categories and levels from across the lab.
Holly Lett of the Professional Development Office sat down with mentee Sandra Efstathiou in a Q&A session to learn what her experience has been so far. Efstathiou is the LBNF senior project procurement administrator for Fermilab.
To learn more about the Mentoring Initiative, please visit the laboratory mentoring website. Mentor and mentee profiles can be submitted through Sept. 29.
“In a year with many challenges, my mentor was the one constant.”
—Sandra Efstathiou, mentee
HL: Why did you decide to participate in the mentoring program?
SE: To get a cross-functional perspective of the lab, prepare for possible leadership role, discover skills and hidden talents, and work on areas of improvement.
HL: What surprised you most about being a mentee?
SE: The discussions on things outside of the lab; it wasn’t focused on just the professional aspects of development.
HL: What impact has mentoring had on your professional development?
SE: I’ve been encouraged to get out of my comfort zone and take risks that I might not have taken before, which I have.
HL: What is the most meaningful advice you’ve received from your mentor?
SE: Think of ways to lead without necessarily having a leadership title.
HL: Have you done this successfully?
SE: Yes, and I’m still working on it. For example, I normally would not have considered doing this interview.
HL: What part of mentoring do you value most?
SE: The one-on-one dialogue with my mentor. It’s invaluable because I met someone that I otherwise wouldn’t have met and learned from his experiences at the lab.
HL: What successes do you feel you’ve had because you participated in the mentoring program?
SE: Being more receptive to feedback from others and having greater self-awareness. Also, I’ve learned to speak up and be more vocal concerning my area of expertise.
HL: How much more confident do you feel now about your career path as opposed to when you first started the mentoring program?
SE: I feel much more confident in the ability to learn, grow and realize my potential.
HL: What value do you think mentoring brings to the Fermilab?
SE: Professional development. I got an understanding of the lab’s life cycle, which I gleaned from my mentor’s perspective and longevity at the lab. Mentoring helps the lab keep people engaged, excited and optimistic about the lab’s future. It also helps with succession planning and the One Lab concept.
HL: What else would you like for others to know about mentoring?
SE: I would like to encourage people to sign up for the program regardless of where they are in their careers. Mentoring shows that the lab’s leadership care about the development of their employees and are aware that there is a need to transfer knowledge.