Did you ever have a mentor? Pay it forward


Katy Piotrowski of Career Solutions Group

This column ran on Sunday, July 20, 2014, in The Coloradoan, a daily newspaper in Fort Collins, Colorado. ITP loves this type of endorsement and we hope it inspires you to pay it forward. We invite you to view the list of new projects and pre-register to mentor a student this fall.

Back when I worked in high-tech marketing and was just a newbie, a more experienced colleague pulled me aside one day and said, “Be sure to proof the headlines and phone numbers in your materials. Many people forget to do that.”

It seemed like a small thing, but I heeded her advice and was immensely grateful as just one month later I watched a co-worker get canned because he’d allowed the wrong phone number to be printed on 10,000 glossy brochures. My adviser’s name was Diane, and I remember her fondly as my first mentor. Over three years, she provided me tidbits of valuable guidance.

Now that I’m more experienced, I look for opportunities to return some of the mentoring I so generously received. If you’re in a similar stage in life, consider getting yourself and your company involved in the International Telementor Program, a system designed to support students in achieving their academic and career goals.

The organization was started in Fort Collins and has served over 47,000 youths in 11 countries with mentors from 22 countries.

As a participating mentor, you would provide advice, information and hope as you work with a student to complete a project during the school year. Projects range from science-related assignments to career exploration to understanding business fundamentals. To view projects seeking mentors, visit www.telementor.org/newprojects.cfm.

For most students, the telementoring program is their first opportunity to collaborate with a professional.

Last year, Fort Collins business owner Kim Sharpe mentored a student who had interest in learning about career options that fit her interests, specifically in music and human services.

“It took about 30 minutes each week to communicate and provide my best advice,” Sharpe said. “A couple times, I reviewed her project-related work and submitted my comments to her via the International Telementor Program secure website. It was efficient and easy.”

And remember, your input as a mentor doesn’t need to be bleeding edge or from a textbook. Sometimes the most valuable support is simply a quick, “You’re doing great. I believe in you!” message sent from the comfort of your keyboard to a student who needs a boost.

Katy Piotrowski, M.Ed., is the author of “The Career Coward’s Guides” and provides career and job search support with Career Solutions Group in Fort Collins. Reach her at (970) 224-4042 or katy@careersolutionsgroup.net.

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Picture-perfect college and career planning

Powerpoint template for scientific posters (Swarthmore College)Powerpoint template for scientific posters (Swarthmore College)At the end of each school term, projects supported by the International Telementor Program come to a close and students present what they learn to an authentic audience, including professionals, teachers and their peers.

One Parkway High School student in Bossier City, Louisiana, shared what she learned in her Career Exploration class about becoming an attorney. Continue reading

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Flood zones and student motivation recover when students engage in authentic work


Megan and Molly

By David Neils

When students know they’re tackling real issues, they’ll put in real effort. Molly and Morgan, two 6th-grade students at Trail Ridge Middle School had an opportunity to tackle a real issue recently–the Colorado flood of fall 2013 that ravaged their community of Longmont, Colorado. Continue reading

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Mentoring helps professionals gain insight, impact students’ lives

Bev Cross

Bev Cross

The International Telementor Program pairs students throughout the world with professionals from companies like Hewlett-Packard, Inc., Google and MasterCard who work with them on a variety of projects ranging from college and career planning to wetland conservation and wildlife habitat restoration to marketing plan development for local businesses.

Since David Neils founded ITP in 1994, more than 47,000 students have benefited from the relationships they build with volunteer mentors Continue reading

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Planting business seeds and growing change agents

trophygirlcropLynne Chrismer, marketing teacher at Holt High School in Wentzville, Missouri, could be called a high-tech farmer. She continuously plants seeds of business savviness and harvests crops of students who are change agents for the world.

With support from the International Telementor Program and professionals around the world who voluntarily work with students to help them learn the ins and outs of business, Chrismer’s students earn high marks and win DECA competitions at state, regional and national levels.

Read why Chrismer partners with ITP and learn some of her secrets for growing a healthy crop of future leaders.

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Students get birdseye view of nesting birds

kestrelStudents from Westview Middle School in Longmont, built a nesting box for kestrels right before their spring break. The work was part of their International Telementor Program-supported conservation project. Jason Helmus, their teacher, provided some help as well. The nesting box is equipped with a WiFi camera and located in the backyard of ITP Founder and President David Neils. It offers an up-close and personal view of how birds keep house and prepare to expand their families. Take a look!

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Students learn compassion, project planning by serving others


Whitney Harris

Whitney Harris, an AVID* teacher at Gateway STEM High School in St. Louis, Missouri, wants her students “to do great big things” and be successful in life. She’s chosen to partner with the International Telementor Program (ITP) to help support her students, who typically are academically average and perhaps from families with a low income that do not  have a tradition of college attendance.

With the help of professionals who volunteer as ITP mentors, students conduct research to discover areas of need in their community, learn who’s working on the identified issues–if anyone, and develop projects to either enhance work already taking place or to address the need in a fresh way.

Beyond learning to serve others, Harris feels ITP mentors help “…students learn to effectively collaborate and how to depend on and trust professional relationships.” And for many of her students, learning to trust is a big deal. Read more.

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Students “dig” real science

DSC02677Students in Longmont, Colorado, are digging their science class. They get to solve genuine conservation and natural resources issues that exist in their own backyard.

With the help of Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, and mentors from Agilent Technologies, Hewlett-Packard Co., Merck & Co., Inc. and Thomson Reuters, 8th-grade students from Westview Middle School are getting their hands dirty and learning about wildlife management and ways to mitigate erosion. Continue reading

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Teachers should stay home if they’re not taking risks


Cameron Shinn Real educator, risk taker, STEM champion

“If you’re just going to play it safe, you might as well stay home.” This is how Cameron Shinn, a 6th-grade English teacher at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado, feels about his profession. He believes risk taking is part of the job of providing students with an authentic education that prepares them for real life. Continue reading

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Students find their spark, help others

When students discover their spark–what excites them and moves them to action–it’s a Ibanezclassbeautiful process to witness.

Directed by their teacher, Rachael Ibanez, and guided further by mentors provided through the International Mentor Program, some students at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado, connect their passion with community service. The juncture of the two is where authentic learning takes place, but having mentors providing encouragement makes all the difference. Continue reading

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