The holiday season is always a good time for reflection on what we’ve achieved in the transportation and sustainability planning profession, as well as thinking about the upcoming year’s goals. However, the other 11 months of the year often fly by us in a frenzy as we are inundated with deadlines and meetings. Here at Policy in Motion I’ve learned a trick to balancing out the immediate demands of work with long-term thinking: MENTORING
It may sound like something that just requires more time, but incorporating professional and personal mentorship into our schedules is the best thing we can do not only for our future transportation and planning leaders, but for ourselves too.
I started the Policy in Motion “Career Development” Mentorship Program in 2011 as a way to bridge student interests with real-world projects. I’ve since worked with half a dozen high school, undergraduates, and grad school students on projects in the Sacramento region and it has been a joy to see these bright leaders go on to pursue careers in the public, private, and academic transportation sectors.
This year I have the great pleasure of mentoring a young professional through the American Planning Association’s “Planning+Leadership+Advancement+Networking” (PLAN) Mentorship Program with 10 other mentors and their mentees. Say hello to Emily!
Emily Alice Gerhart is a recent graduate of UC Davis, with a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Development and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. She is a project coordinator at WALKSacramento, a non-profit that promotes walkable communities through active transportation planning and advocacy. She currently works on a variety of projects, leading a Safe Routes to School project in West Sacramento, reviewing development projects and plans, and analyzing regional policies related to Complete Streets. Emily was an invited speaker at the Pedestrians Count! 2014 statewide conference in May 2014, where she gave a presentation on using social media to achieve pedestrian advocacy and outreach goals. In Fall 2014, she was accepted into the American Planning Association award-winning PLAN Sac Valley mentorship program for aspiring planners. Emily Alice is passionate about creating safe public spaces and promoting active transportation through urban and environmental design.
Here are a few easy tips on how to help students succeed:
- Share internship opportunities with related programs at local Universities. For example, contact Cynthia Goldberg at the UC Davis Internship and Career Center with internship announcements related to environmental planning/policy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Volunteer with college outreach activities through a local professional organization, such as the Women’s Transportation Seminar, American Planning Association, Urban Land Institute, or the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
- Encourage your agency, company, or organization to make donations to local scholarship funds. Most professional organizations have a student scholarship program. Share information about these scholarship opportunities with local teachers and advisors.
- Meet for coffee — invite a young professional at your organization or someone you met in a meeting out for a morning coffee. The best mentorship is subtle, casual, and genuine.
- Bring a student or young professional with you next time you have a WTS luncheon, ITE holiday party, APA planning program, or ULI happy hour. Introduce them to others in the field. Mentorship breeds easily :)
Happy Holidays Everyone!