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Categories:  Campus

Mentor program provides new skills, connections

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Staff members can apply through June 30 to be mentors and proteges in the Staff Leadership Mentoring Program.

Erika Magallanes spends much of her day at her desk, paying bills and managing grants for researchers in disability and human development.

Her department is small, so she doesn’t have any mentors to help develop her career as an academic professional. But she found great advice through a match made by the Staff Leadership Mentoring Program.

All UIC academic professional and civil service staff members can apply to participate in the program through June 30.

“After being on campus eight years, I wanted to learn more about how to grow my career,” said Magallanes, a resource and policy analyst. “The mentoring program was great.”

She was matched last academic year with Jacob Mueller, director of administrative operations in medical education. They communicated frequently by email and met in person at least once a month; they still keep in touch.

“Having that personal connection really helps,” Magallanes said. “He is very positive and helped me see different job opportunities and learn new things.”

Since the program began in 2009, as many as 40 pairs of employees — mentors and protégés — have been matched each year. It began as the Academic Professionals Mentoring Program but expanded its scope and changed its name to the Staff Leadership Mentoring Program.

Staff members can sign up as mentors or protégés in categories such as business and financial services, academic and student affairs, leadership development, work/life balance and more.

“We have a wealth of knowledge here right within our own colleagues and to not be sharing that information on a regular basis would be a shame,” said Angela Prazza Winters, former chair of the program and assistant dean of UIC Business Undergraduate Programs. “It’s a great networking tool.”

Magallanes plans to participate again.

“You have nothing to lose — there’s a million things to gain,” she said. “Most of us don’t leave our desk after the moment we arrive. There are tons of things you can learn or skills you can share with other people.”