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Benefits of mentorships abound for Berkeley participants

James Dudek felt that his career was “scattered” and needed some focus. Roia Ferrazares wanted to advance more quickly. And Mary Graham was looking for a niche that better matched her “big-picture” outlook.

These three UC Berkeley employees landed in the mentorship program, a volunteer program launched by the Berkeley Staff Assembly in 2004. It has facilitated nearly 200 empowering and enduring relationships between senior employees and their less-experienced colleagues and helped create powerful mentee and mentor networks.

UCOP hopes to replicate that success with its new mentorship program, which was launched last month, modeled on programs at Berkeley and UCSF. It is now soliciting applications from career employees at PSS classifications 1 through 5 who have been at UCOP for at least 2 years. Applications are due by 5 p.m., Friday, March 11.

As the Berkeley participants say, the mentor-mentee relationship can be arranged to meet the schedules and the needs of a wide range of participants, whatever their professional objectives.

“The mentoring relationship empowered me,” says Roia Ferrazares who, after only 2 years at Berkeley, landed a spot on the Chancellor’s Staff Advisory Committee (CSAC), which she now chairs. Her mentor, she says, taught her the fine art of informational interviewing, a tool that opened doors for her and helped her advance from a supervisorial position in Letters & Sciences to Music Department manager.

“Career development can also involve a sideways move,” says Mary Graham, who got involved in the program specifically to examine her fit in a new management position in department-level human resources. A few years later, she chose a lateral move to her current position as academic personnel policy analyst in the Academic Senate. For others, changing jobs may not be an explicit goal.

“I wasn’t looking for advancement,” Dudek says. “My career just wasn’t that important to me.” He came to Berkeley in 1988 as a senior clerk typist and did everything from student advising and budgets to purchasing skunk urine for what was then the Forestry Department.

But he joined the mentorship program to help him tackle a challenging technical assignment, and his mentor steered him toward the resources and the people he needed to succeed. Now a business systems analyst in Student Affairs, Dudek also chairs his own working group (the Business Process Analysis Working Group) and is “having a great experience” serving as a mentor this year.

Like Dudek, Graham is now serving as a mentor; she also volunteers on the BSA’s Career Development Committee, which oversees the Mentorship Program. Mentees are very motivated as a group, she says, but those with a specific goal will get the most out of the program.

“It starts with the application,” Ferrazares says. “You want to show that you have some goal.” That goal may be as simple as wanting to gain more insight into one’s own aspirations.

The UCOP program aims to match 15 to 25 pairs who will spend one year conferring one-on-one on matters both professional and organizational, sometimes personal, outside the formal structure of work assignments, supervisors and project teams.

Some sessions, the Berkeley participants say, are spent talking about career aspirations, some venting about the day’s problems, others focusing on navigating politics or identifying people or activities that can help them achieve their goals. One mentor took her mentee to a high-level administrative meeting, for example. And these relationships, they say, last for years.

Mentors in the UCOP program will include leadership from the highest levels of the organization. To apply, mentees answer five questions about their work at UCOP, their career goals and why they think they are good candidates for the program. Finalists will be selected according to specific criteria by members of the Mentorship Program Development Team, made up of staff from a range of divisions.

For more information, check out the UCOP Mentorship Program website at, where you can find program guidelines, the mentee application form and more details.

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