(Editor's note: This is part two of a three-article series on the distinct phases of the IMCOM Headquarters Centralized Mentoring Program. The first article is available online at http://www.army.mil/article/130378/)
SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 23, 2015) -- Life changing, enlightening and powerful are just a few words used by two participants in the U.S. Army Installation Management Command Headquarters Centralized Mentorship Program after they returned to headquarters for a week-long job shadow with their mentors - phase two of the 12-month employee development program.
Carolyn Tolliver-Lee, a Family Advocacy Program specialist at U.S. Army Garrison Fort Riley, Kansas, and Traci Dunlap, a Suicide Prevention Program Manager at U.S. Army Garrison Fort Rucker, Alabama, spent a week with their mentors -- John Capen, Employee Assistance Program Specialist, IMCOM headquarters Army Substance Abuse Program, and Kimberly Combs, IMCOM Central Region, Region Installation Support Team Program Manager, respectively - observing the inner workings of both the command and the Army Substance Abuse Program.
"This has been very powerful for me," Tolliver-Lee said. "It helped me to get a direction for my career and learn more about prevention programs and services, even being part of the CUB (commanders update brief) and the PUB (plans update brief) to watch that process . . . I've learned so much. I'm walking away with a big cloud of knowledge and I feel like I've got my second wind."
There are so many resources that the Army has made available to help me, to have the career that I envisioned for myself," she said. "That's the mentorship program at work. Now I really feel like the Army does care about me and my development."
The team's shadow week agenda included overviews and in-depth discussion of mentees' ASAP related topics, such as drug testing, employee assistance, suicide prevention and clinical services, as well as IMCOM headquarters operations and career advice.
"This is how we can build a bench within IMCOM," said Beth Burns, IMCOM Human Resources Specialist and new HCMP coordinator. "This is about people -- giving our employees every possible tool and resource to develop themselves."
Dunlap said that shadow week connected the dots, giving her a more accurate picture of where she fits into IMCOM and a career map to follow.
"I knew I wanted to make the military, working for the government my career, but I didn't really have any specific direction," said Dunlap, "and that's the reason I took to the program. I thought, this is early in my career, let's get it figured out now and not wait 10 or 12 years. I've got my direction now, and I've got people who can give me advice here and there. If I get lost, they'll prod me along a little bit and help me out along the way. That's what this is all about."
With two mentees having a shared career interest in ASAP and their two mentors being in one location, for first-time mentor Capen, it made good sense to bring everyone together.
"It's kind of unusual to have two mentors and two mentees together and that collaborative synergy has been the ticket [to success] for our week," Capen said. "I've been able to spend some time with the mentees. I've probably learned as much, if not more, as a mentor by listening to their questions, and their desires and concerns about professional development goals.
Fellow mentor Combs echoed the sentiment.
This has been the highlight of the last four years," said Combs, a four-year mentor. "It truly has been serendipitous and to everyone's advantage -- the program, the mentees and certainly to our advantage. There is absolutely no doubt that there has been more interaction, more communication . . . everybody had something to share - life, personal and professional -- that had a piece that helped us grow."
According to Burns, while the mentees gain new insights during job shadowing, they are also working on command-related projects with fellow participants that will be presented to senior mentors as program capstones and potentially adopted into action within the command's strategic human capital plan, concluding the official length of the program. However, mentors and mentees agree that this relationship will continue longer than 12 months.
"The only goal here is making a difference in someone's life," Combs said. "I have all but one of my mentees here, so when she (Dunlap) came in, we all went to dinner. We still talk, it's a life-long relationship."
The HCMP is an annual employee development opportunity for civilians command wide -- garrisons, regions, IMCOM headquarters and Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management. Mentor participants are employees in grades GS 13-15 (or equivalent) and mentees are employees in grades GS 11-13 (or equivalent), and includes non-appropriated fund and local national employees. Mentor and mentee applications for the next session will be available soon.
For more information about applying to the HCMP as a mentor or mentee, contact IMCOM headquarters workforce development team Nick Gonzales at firstname.lastname@example.org, Beth Burns at email@example.com, or Michael Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the U.S. Army Installation Management Command:
IMCOM handles the day-to-day operations of U.S. Army installations around the globe -- We are the Army's Home. Army installations are communities that provide many of the same types of services expected from any small city. Fire, police, housing, and child-care are just some of the things IMCOM does in Army communities every day. Our professional workforce strives to deliver on the commitments of the Army Family Covenant, honor the sacrifices of military Families, and enable the Army Force Generation cycle.
Our vision: Innovative professionals committed to effectively delivering extraordinary services and facilities for our premier Army
Our mission: IMCOM delivers and integrates base support to enable readiness for a self-reliant and globally responsive all volunteer Army.
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