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Mentoring-Get Involved

Think back to when you first started your career as a Laborer. Can you remember your first day on the job? You may have felt lost, working with new people, not sure of your place or what you were supposed to do. Those feelings may have lasted a week or two, maybe longer. Now think about how things gradually got better, you felt more confident about how to do your job as you learned more about it. As time went on, your skills developed and you became a productive crew member. How did you get better? For many, they were fortunate to have someone take them under their wing and show them the ropes. While there may not have been any formal training for you back in the day, you were benefiting from the skills and experience of another worker.

Today, we have apprenticeship. Many new apprentices have been recruited because they have some experience. Most arrive on the job with at least some training. But they are starting out just like you did and they need your help. If you've worked with apprentices before, you have provided valuable lessons to them just by doing your job. They have observed your methods and your work ethic. If this is you, then congratulations, besides making money for you and your employer, this may be the most valuable thing you can do! But you can, and should do more. You can become a Mentor for an apprentice, and help your Union in the process.

Mentoring Our Own To Sustain Our Union

In 2011, and through a supportive services contract from ODOT and BOLI, the Oregon Laborers launched a pilot mentoring program for apprentices. Our thought was to identify apprentices (mentees) who could benefit from a one-to-one, work-based relationship and pair them with experienced journey workers (mentors) who had walked a similar path earlier in their careers. Mentors and mentees met on a regular basis outside of work. While some rode and worked together, others met after hours. They discussed their work, mentees talked about their problems while mentors listened and talked about their experience. We tracked these formal relationships from three to six months, but for most, they were the beginning of a what could become a long association/ friendship.

While the pilot project was a small and modest first step, we could absolutely see the benefits of mentoring for both apprentices and journey workers and we want you to get involved.

Mentoring an apprentice can be a challenging but rewarding activity. It rewards the mentor, as he/ she gets the satisfaction of seeing another person developing and growing. It benefits the Union, by ensuring that apprentices do the right thing, both on the job and off.

What's the Commitment?
In one-to-one mentoring relationships, it is most effective when mentors and mentees meet on a regular basis. However, it also has to work for both people. So it could be a weekly face-to-face meeting, it could be a regularly scheduled phone call, or it could even be an electronic meeting such as with Skype, FaceTime, or email. The important thing is that there is regular communication that works for everyone. Like all relationships, only those that are regularly nourished will become fruitful and beneficial for those involved.

Getting Involved

If you would like to get involved as a mentor, or if you want more information, please call the Training Center and ask to speak to either the Apprentice Coordinator or Training Director Mark Tobiasson and be sure to mention Mentoring. We may not be available to speak to you right away but will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.

When we talk, we'll want to know where you live and work, your work experience, and why you want to become a mentor. If you decide that you are ready to commit to mentoring, then we'll work to match up someone based on our conversation and we'll provide you with some initial ideas to get started. We may check in with you from time to time, but the rest will be up to you.

What Are You Waiting For?
Call the Training Center today at 541-745-5513 and ask for Aida or Mark and don't forget to mention Mentoring.