UPAAT Mentoring Program launched!
By: Maripi Leynes and Gretchen Mangahas
UPAAT Education and Awareness Committee successfully facilitated the Mentoring Program Kick-off
Believing in the value of mentoring where knowledge transfer and counselling are experienced by both mentor and mentee, the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Toronto (UPAAT) launched its Mentoring Program to primarily support its members who are all Internationally Educated Professionals (IEPs). Like many IEPs, UP alumni belong to the sectors of internationally educated and trained professionals who are challenged with barriers to landing a job based on their skills and qualifications in Canada.
Acknowledging these challenges, this mentoring program aims to: (1) Provide career mentoring and development supports to UPAAT newcomers, family members and UPAAT members who are interested in changing careers; (2) Be a platform to share and exchange career development resources (training, education and government programs, scholarships, policies, etc.); and (3) Inspire UPAAT members and their family members in their journey towards their full potential in their chosen careers and professional fields.
Matching and Meeting
It was a good start for the Mentorship Program led by the Education and Awareness Committee (EAC). Mentors and mentees finally got to meet each other in Zoom’s breakout rooms to plan for their next meeting, albeit virtually for now.
Before the kick-off meeting held on January 28, 2021, UPAAT members were invited to a fill out a survey if they are interested to apply as a mentor or mentee. The EAC evaluated the applications and matched the mentors and mentees according to fields of interest and expertise among other criteria.
The kick-off meeting opened with an overview of the Mentoring Program given by EAC Chair Mayrose Salvador. She welcomed the first batch of 12 mentors and eight mentees and provided them with the mechanics of the program. This was followed by a presentation on “Creating A Favourable Impression in Job Search” by Ernesto Villaroya of the EAC who shared important tips on preparing for job interviews and delivering the actual job interview. Villaroya also gave tips on how to get a good impression during a virtual interview where body language has become a crucial element in these times of online meetings. While he believes that a virtual interview is not much different from face-to-face, the interviewee is most likely seated at home, maybe in a makeshift office. Interviewees should therefore be aware of the camera’s range of reach and make sure to use a background that it is appropriate.
Participants then shared their advice and insights on job search where the importance of having a succinct resume and a complete LinkedIn profile, as well as the ability of sharing compelling stories were emphasized. The mentees were assigned to breakout rooms to meet their mentors. Villaroya, who leads the Mentors Group, said in an interview after the Zoom meeting that marketing the program should continue in order to get more people interested. He feels optimistic that the program will be of value to the mentees.
Responsibilities and Commitment
Helen Balderama, one of the organizers of the event provided an overview of what are expected from the mentors and mentees. According to the EAC Mentoring guidelines, “the main objective of the mentoring program is to help a talented professional, the mentee, attain his/her full potential thru coaching by an experienced individual, the mentor. It is a professional relationship that is bound by an informal contract between the mentor and the mentee. As such, it is important that the terms of this contract are made clear, understood, and agreed upon by the parties.”
The UPAAT Mentoring Program is expected to offer a unique experience to the participants because of the shared lived experiences of both the mentor and mentee who come from the same country of origin, the same premier public university, but with different stories of finding their path to integrating in the Canadian society. The shared context and shared stories become a venue for exchanging lessons, insights, hopes and successes that can give directions to a better pathway not just in a future professional career, but in living life in Canada.