For most of us, this is our first experience with a pandemic, social distancing, quarantine and isolation. That’s a lot for people to take in, especially in the beginning when the weather had us cooped up inside our homes staying warm and dry. As the Director of QCC’s mentoring program it was certainly an adjustment for me, as well as the participants on both sides. We had to find new ways to communicate, keep in touch and keep that personal connection we worked so hard to build. Matching mentors and mentees takes getting to know people and building the relationship once we make the match takes time and effort as well. So, like so many others, we turned to Zoom, Facetime, phones, iPads, laptops and whatever else was necessary to keep our momentum.
These relationships mean a lot to us, to the mentors and especially the mentees. They join the program for guidance and advice. They are looking for a helping hand to gain the confidence necessary to make life decisions, go into their first professional job interview and just take chances in general. These relationships can give them encouragement, confidence, and help them make big decisions and even lead to full time jobs.
We have a mentee who is hard of hearing, which made it difficult for her to find viable job opportunities. She worked with her mentor who supported her, opened doors and in the end they turned out to be the perfect pair. Here’s what she had to say:
“I am so excited to be a part of this program. I got the support and encouragement through my ups and downs at interviews. She helped me believe in myself. I am so grateful for taking a chance on being a mentee in this program. I’m looking forward to growing and learning more about me through this program and through my mentor. Without her I would have been afraid and not taken chances on new opportunities. This program has inspired me to be a stronger person despite my disability. She truly understood how to talk with me and understand me. I just appreciate her so much. " – QCC Mentee
Becoming a mentor is a great opportunity to build relationships, and break down racial and economic barriers that exist in our society. More than 70 percent of our mentees are students of color, and 1st generation college students. It’s a great opportunity to learn about their lives and hurdles they face in the workplace and everyday life. Mentors give these students exposure to professional networks and provide them with opportunities to explore careers that they may never have considered.
Now, in this time of uncertainty and isolation is the most important time to make meaningful connections for many QCC students. It truly is one of the best things in life. Being able to open doors for someone and help them take the next step toward something that will change their path and life going forward. In this spirit, we continue to build a mutually supportive community of mentors and mentees that can improve not only our college and community, but much of Massachusetts for years to come.
Thanks for your time,
Director of Mentoring for Perkins Programs
Quinsigamond Community College