Carnegie Mellon University

About the Program

This staff-to-staff mentoring program is an opportunity to engage with a fellow CMWA member in conversations around professional interests and aspirations including career advancement, educational opportunities, and job-related issues.

Women who wish to be mentored will be matched with those volunteering to mentor others based on their experience and needs. This program is intended to be completely voluntary, with no compensation tied to participation. The program is named in honor of Barbara B. Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer at Carnegie Mellon for 22 years before retiring in 2011.

How will the program benefit me?

As the saying goes, “you get out of it what you put into it.” We find that matches have the potential to be wonderful, given that participants really do meet and exchange their ideas, information and experience.

If you join, you have a chance to network. You are likely to learn new things about Carnegie Mellon and how it functions. You may find a colleague who will help you to update a resume. You may get advice on career development or tackling a tough work situation. You may be pointed to the right campus problem-solver. Or you may find your mentor meeting to be a welcome opportunity for some downtime to share stories of life experiences. Many of our mentors and mentees end up with new friends and professional contacts as a result of the mentorship.

Important Dates

  • January 8 | Applications Open
  • January 10 | FAQ Zoom meeting 1:30 PM
  • January 12 | Applications close at 5 PM*
  • Week of January 22 | Mentors will be contacted with their mentees
  • February 7 | Kick-Off Event, Danforth Conference Room, 12-1 PM
*NOTE: The application for Mentors has been extended to accommodate the large number of mentees. 

Participation is open to CMWA members who are employed in regular or temporary part-time or full-time appointments of four months or longer.

Barbara Smith Women's Mentoring Program FAQ
Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at 1:30 PM
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Defining Roles

Role of the Mentor

As a mentor your primary role is to provide guidance and support.

• Ask open-ended questions
• Demonstrate active listening
Clarify understanding
Role model behavior
Provide objective feedback and guidance
Facilitate self-reflection
Be engaged
Honor commitments

Role of the Mentee

As a mentee your primary role is to identify the skills, knowledge, or goals you want to achieve and share with your mentor.

• Set goals
Ask for specific advice on your skill set, ideas, plans and goals
Create an action plan for accomplishing goals
Effectively receive and respond to positive and constructive feedback
Take initiative and remember that you own your own development
Use active listening skills in discussions with your mentor
Be engaged
Honor commitments

Frequently Asked Questions

Important Dates

  • January 8 | Applications Open
  • January 10 | FAQ Zoom meeting 1:30 PM
  • January 12 | Applications close at 5 PM
  • Week of January 22 | Mentors will be contacted with their mentees
  • February 7 | Kick-Off Event, Danforth Conference Room, 12-1 PM

You both do! Mentees often believe that they should wait for their mentor to contact them. Not true! Either party can be the impetus for building a solid partnership. Mentees might find that they are mentoring their partners at times. The truest sign of success in your mentoring relationships is when you find that you are sharing in both directions.

The program operates on a calendar basis. Applications for both mentors and mentees will open in the fall. Applications must be submitted in January. Matches are determined by early February and a reception to announce and celebrate those matches takes place in early to mid-February.

Members of the CMWA Mentorship Committee will review the information provided on your application form and your resume to identify appropriate mentor-mentee matches. In general, women are matched by evaluating the career and life experience of the mentors with the needs of those being mentored. We look at the department you work in, because we do our best to avoid matching people who already know each other and we strive to protect your privacy. We look at your career specialization and personal background to find common interests. Matches are rarely perfect, but are always seriously considered and have the potential to be wonderful, given your involvement.

Every effort is made to accommodate all interested individuals; however, this is a volunteer activity and sometimes the pool of mentors and those who wish to be mentored does not match, either by number or by area of expertise.

There are three phases to mentoring relationships—a beginning, middle, and end.

The beginning—this is the most critical stage of the relationship. The focus is on gaining rapport and building trust. Mentoring pairs work on getting to know one another, set goals for the relationship, and agree on commitments and expectations. It’s helpful to set at least one achievable goal together for the relationship. What do the two of you want to get out of this relationship?

The middle—during this stage, the mentor and mentee begin to work toward the goal(s) they set during stage one. The focus is on creating action plans, taking action, and reflecting on outcomes. Throughout the mentorship it is important for both the mentor and mentee to reflect upon the direction the mentorship is taking, its impact on the mentor and mentee, and identify when goals are met.

The end—the mentoring cycle ends in December and the majority of mentoring relationships end; however, this is not always the case. During this stage, the relationship and achievements are evaluated and achievements are celebrated.

Right away! We find that your mentor relationship starts out best if you plan to meet very soon after the matches are announced. We also find that you can lose momentum in getting to know one another if you do not also plan some routine into your meetings. However, the location, time, and frequency of meetings is totally up to the two of you. Please schedule meetings on a mutually agreeable basis.

Your ‘get togethers’ can be formal or informal. Any format that you both are comfortable with will do … breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee break, events, office meetings, on- or off-campus, etc.

Serving as a mentor or a mentee is intended to be completely voluntary.

The program is intended to be completely voluntary, with no compensation tied to participation.

Since 1994 the project has matched over 350 women with mentors. It is named for Barbara Smith, a former chief human resources officer at Carnegie Mellon University, who recognized the importance of women supporting women on campus from both a professional and personal standpoint.

The Barbara Smith Women’s Mentoring program is supported and administered by the Carnegie Mellon Women’s Association. .

The committee recruits mentors and mentees, matches mentors and mentees in pairs, hosts an informal kick-off reception, checks in periodically with mentoring pairs to see how things are going, and collects a program evaluation from all participants to evaluate what is working well and what could be improved for the future, and then begins planning for next year’s program.

The mentorship co-chairs listed above would be the first point of contact. If unable to assist, any executive board member of the Carnegie Mellon Women’s Association (CMWA) will be available.

We discourage serving as both; please pick one. We have many mentees return as mentors the follow years. We can always use more mentors!