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The spaghetti challenge, seeker event at IPC.
Pathways event at IPC

IPC Pathways is a career exploration program at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in McLean, Virginia.   If you are a youth or young adult – whom we call seekers – and you have a connection to Immanuel, whether or not you are a member, this program is for you. The program offers seekers:

  • Career mentoring conversations with Immanuel mentors, which are discussed below (register using the orange button below)
  • A Pathways Resource Map, which is an annotated, opinionated, organized portal to books, blogs, articles, podcasts, videos and other organizations that we believe seekers and mentors can benefit from exploring.
  • The “Pathways at Work” bulletin board with ideas for “shadowing for a day” opportunities, summer jobs, internships, and gap year experiences.

We are regularly adding to this site, so please come back often!

The sections below answer questions about how the mentoring conversations work, why you should be a seeker, how to register, how to use the mentor directory, and how to ensure successful conversations.  

If you have any questions, please reach out to Steve Parker or Lynley Ogilvie.

A special note during the Panedemic

If you’re tempted to suspend conversations, we suggest you increase them. Why? Because these times of remote work in your apartments, distancing, NO sports and OD’ing on online entertainment call for increased human connection. And God knows (literally) that challenging times increase our need for reflection on how to give our lives – vocation and otherwise — real meaning. Also, mentors need the connection at least as much as you do. Help them feel needed! Remember, they have wisdom, experience and stories to share, and (confidential) ears to listen.
We rank the effectiveness of mentoring conversations in this order:
 

Works great:  

Video chat, such as Skpye, Facetime or Zoom – all free, all easy to use. We think video chats are more productive than phone. Zoom works across devices and platforms, and is so easy to download that older mentors can do it easily. Start here if you don’t have it.

Works well:

Phone conversations.

Doesn’t work:

Having no mentoring conversations because of social distancing. You’ve had conversations, you know how helpful and inspiring they can be, as this feedback confirms. (Please email us comments we can post on this page, OK?).
Just pick a few mentors in your Airtable base and set up a time and swap contact info. Remember to bookmark it.  And don’t forget, this page has tips for mentoring conversations. If you want fresh suggestions for mentors, or have other questions or just want to chat, we’re here for you. Lynley’s email address is on the cc line.
Stay safe, and contribute to your better future self by having more mentoring conversations!

Career mentoring conversations at Immanuel need not be long, perhaps 20 minutes to an hour, but that’s up to you both and your sense of how it’s going.  Meeting after the morning or evening church service somewhere at church works well, or if you prefer, at a local coffee shop. Some have shared a meal at a McLean restaurant.

The expectation is for one meeting.  The goal is not to set up a long-term mentoring relationship.  Hopefully you will stay in touch, and additional conversations are welcome if both parties agree!  

Mentors must respect the confidences of seekers if confidentiality is requested.  Needless to say, only discuss what you are comfortable discussing.

What do we talk about?

Mentors and seekers should approach this in whatever manner is comfortable for both.

  • The purpose is simple:  to give seekers a chance to share where they are in their career exploration, ask questions and share concerns. This gives mentors a chance to tell their career stories, which is key.
  • Ask each other questions to get things going.  See the examples in the tips for seekers below.

Why are you having this conversation?

That’s up to the seeker. The mentor career profiles identify three categories:  specific careers, lifestyle issues and career choice. Many are interested in more than one category.

In the best conversations, mentors and seekers share a common understanding about the purpose of the conversation.  We suggest you both share what you hope to accomplish at the outset.

The goal is for the seeker to have multiple conversations with different mentors

At the end of the conversation, we hope you discuss who else the seeker should chat with, either inside or outside Immanuel.  The mentor should consider introducing the seeker to others who could be helpful, or let the seeker use the mentor’s name when introducing himself or herself to others.  

Having multiple conversations helps:

  • Learn more about specific career opportunities
  • Get different perspectives
  • Offer spiritual insight into career choices
  • Learn to network more effectively
  • Understand how those who have travelled different career paths have wrestled with common issues

Please email Steve Parker when you complete a conversation so he can send you an online survey. This survey takes only a few minutes to complete. We need your feedback!  

Everyone benefits from career advice.  Advice can come in many forms and from many different sources. You can benefit from different kinds of mentors – at work, in school and friends.  All of them can positively impact your life. Ideally, you will always have multiple mentors in your life.

Why, then, talk with an Immanuel mentor?

Immanuel seekers have raved about their conversations with Immanuel mentors.  Check out the testimonials here.

Immanuel is a great place to learn how to network.  Study after study shows that the best career opportunities come from personal connections, not simply applying for jobs online.  Why not get better at networking in a loving community that wants you to succeed?

Choosing a Pathways mentor is not a long-term commitment.  It is a request to have a cup of coffee or a meal and stay in touch from time to time.

You can talk with someone who has no agenda other than yours.  Work colleagues, friends, teachers, and guidance counselors all offer great opportunities for advice, but they have their own perspectives and goals.  An Immanuel mentor can be a resource without any goal other than to listen and share.

Immanuel mentors have amazing experience and wisdom.  Think about all the great careers represented in the congregation. Think about those who know how to ask good questions or who are great listeners and story-tellers.

Immanuel mentors know people.  Pathways mentoring conversations have led to introductions to others both inside and outside Immanuel who were valuable sources of specific career experience and wisdom.

Mentoring can make a difference even if you’re satisfied with the career choices you’ve made.  Pathways isn’t just for those who need to decide on a career, or for those who want to find or change jobs. No matter how happy you are with your career decisions, you probably still have many choices in front of you about how to live your life in that career and how to make a difference in the world.

Communities are great places to discuss shared values affecting important decisions.  Communities provide support for their members.  Career choices are value-based choices. Mentoring conversations provide an opportunity to explore those values.

For some, career choices are spiritual choices.  Your vocation says a lot about who you are and what you are trying to accomplish on earth.  How does your life’s purpose fit your vocation? Talking with an Immanuel mentor is an opportunity to share your thinking with a member of your worship community.  And it’s an opportunity to hear the stories of those whose faith likely influenced their choices.

The mentor profiles are in an Airtable program.  The program contains dozens of Immanuelites who have volunteered to be available to chat, over coffee or a meal, about career exploration.  

Can I invite my friends to view the profiles?

This is an Immanuel resource. Mentors have agreed to be available to those with connections to Immanuel, whether or not they are members.  If you have friends who are connected to Immanuel, we strongly encourage you to send them a link to this page and invite them to request access.  We would love for your friends to strengthen their ties to Immanuel!

What’s there?

The profiles show:

  • Mentor careers, by category
  • Those who are available to discuss specific careers, those interested in lifestyle issues, and those who feel they can help choose a career
  • Whether their experience is nonprofit, government, large company, and/or small company
  • Age (by range – did you really think they’d tell you how old they are?)
  • Their stories, briefly in their words, about what they offer seekers
  • When they’re available to meet
  • Their pictures, and links to their LinkedIn profiles
  • Email addresses, to request conversations

You can scroll through the profiles manually, or use a search feature contained in the upper right-hand corner of the Airtable page.  

How do I sign up?

Two simple steps.

First:

Just click on this link and submit the form, or email Steve Parker or Lynley Ogilvie and we’ll email you the form. Completing the form only requires you to give us your name and email address.  

The form also offers the option to provide additional information which, if you ask us, will allow a small group of Pathways administrators to suggest conversation matches.  (Reaching out to mentors would still be up to you, unless you ask for our help, which we’re happy to provide.) The information you submit on your form will be viewable only by those administering Pathways.

Second:

Once you submit your form, we’ll send you a link to the Airtable mentor profile program.  You will need to register for Airtable (which is free) using your email address and a password you select.   You can also download an Airtable app for Android or iPhone.

Then you’re ready to go!

Questions and comments? 

Email Steve Parker or Lynley Ogilvie.

It’s time to start having conversations!  

How do I pick mentors?

Think first about why you want to have a conversation.  Look in the Airtable directory under the “What do I offer a seeker?” tab which displays how mentors have answered this question.

  1. Is your goal for the conversation to lead you further into a specific career? 
  2. Do you want to explore lifestyle issues raised by different careers?  Many mentors have experience and interest in lifestyle issues.
  3. What if you have no idea what you want to do?  Lots of mentors have experience finding their way through many paths to unexpected, fulfilling careers.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find someone who perfectly matches your interests.  

  • Part of the purpose is to find good listeners who can ask good questions and share their stories.
  • The conversations are also designed in part to give you leads to others inside and outside Immanuel who might be helpful to you.

How should I request conversations?

Simply click on the email addresses in the Airtable email field and it will create a new email to the mentor.

We suggest a short, simple email.  Be yourself, keep it light. It’s probably a good idea to say something about why you picked the person. Here are a few suggested approaches to give you ideas, but again, you of course should use your own style.

“I found you in the Pathways database and would like to have a cup of coffee with you because you’ve worked in the government.  I’m interested in government service, but I need to learn more. I saw you’re available before or after the evening service. Is there a day in the next month or so that works for you?  We could meet at the church.”
“I saw in your Pathways profile that you have worked in consulting. I’m in college and I’m thinking about a career in consulting but I’m worried about the demands and work/lifestyle balance.  Would you have a few minutes to chat about your experience and share your thoughts about how I might get a better sense of what it’s like, maybe in a summer internship?”
“I’m just out of college and looking for a job.  I have a number of different ideas for careers, and saw in the Pathways database that you are available to discuss that, and you’ve done lots of different things.  I’d love to hear about how you made your choices.”

We recommend in-person meetings rather than phone calls if possible.  Remember that mentors are busy too, so please try to respect the time preferences in their profiles.   Use your time with them efficiently and productively!

Finally, remember, this is just a single conversation to hear about the mentor’s experiences.  Here’s what it’s not:

  • It’s not a long-term mentoring commitment
  • It’s not about help finding you a job
  • It’s not about giving you career advice

The conversation can be 20 minutes, an hour, before or after church, or in a local coffee shop.  This does not commit either of you to more than one, but you’re always welcome to have more if you both agree!  We hope in any event that mentors and seekers stay in touch.

First, please review “What is expected in a mentoring conversation?” section above for a discussion of what is expected.

Follow your instincts and style about how best to conduct a conversation, but you might keep a few things in mind:

  • Treat it as any conversation you might have with an uncle, aunt or an older friend, about your career path.
  • Use the conversation to learn the mentor’s career path story.  While his or her path is almost certainly not yours, hearing what he did or what she liked and didn’t like will be useful.

It’s not a job interview or a headhunter interview

This is not about the mentor helping you get a new job.  It’s to give you perspectives and ideas about the paths you might consider following.

It’s not about the mentor telling you what to do

Mentors are not equipped, and don’t know enough, to tell you what career path to pursue, or to give career advice. The goal is for you to share your story and questions, and to hear their stories and learn from them.

Plan to make the conversations productive

First, try to get to know your mentor by reviewing his or her Pathways and LinkedIn profiles ahead of time.  Think of questions to ask. Come up with some goals for the conversation.

Also, please try to be efficient with your time with him or her.  We suggest you agree up front on the amount of time planned for the conversation.  

It’s good to agree on the purpose of the conversation, thinking about the three categories identified in the profiles (specific career, lifestyle, picking a career).

Remember to tell your story and ask for the mentor’s story.  There’s lots to be learned from stories. Ask questions when you hear the stories.

Mentoring conversations can be rewarding, even life-changing.  How do you increase the chances of having an inspiring, even life-changing conversation? Check out our blog on the subject: How to make Your Mentoring Conversation Count.

Finally, most important:  Have fun!  Be yourself!  Relax and remember Immanuel mentors are there to support you and your future.

Use the experience to learn how to improve your conversations

Mentoring conversations are an art, and practice improves the benefits. Pathways is partly about learning how to have these conversations in an environment that is accepting and supportive (duh, it’s Immanuel).  One goal is for you to want to have more conversations with others who have been down a path of interest to you.

So you’ve had your conversation – what’s next?

For your to do list:

  • Ask for advice on who else inside or outside Immanuel you should chat with
  • Ask if they’ll introduce you or if you can use the mentor’s name in introducing yourself.  If no names immediately come to mind ask them to think about it and get back to you
  • Send a thank you note, regardless of how productive your conversation was.  They’ll appreciate it and will be more likely to want to help other seekers.  
  • If there are follow-up steps, refer to those in your thank you note.

Remembers to keep going back to the Airtable mentor directory and requesting conversations with more mentors.   We are continuing to add mentors, so it’s worth checking back from time to time to see what’s new.

Additional resources on mentoring conversations

There are many great resources to improve your mentoring conversations.  Here are a few:

  1. This entry in our Signposts blog: Making Your Mentoring Conversation Count
  2. This article in Forbes has five great suggestions for improving your mentoring relationships.
  3. One of our favorite resources is Designing Your Life, by William Burnett and Dave Evans, a New York Times best-seller based on a popular career exploration course taught at Stanford.  The book has great thoughts (pages 115-117) about conducting a mentoring conversation, which they call a “Life Design Interview.”

Tips for registered Pathways seekers  using Airtable

Congratulations on registering as a Pathways seeker!  You should have received an invitation to join Airtable, so you can access the IPC Pathways mentor database.  If you haven’t yet received an invitation, or if you aren’t able to see and review the “IPC Pathways career experience database.” just reach out to Steve Parker or Lynley Ogilvie.

Airtable works well on desktops.  You can also download an Airtable app for Android or iPhone.

 

One you’re in the Airtable mentor base (called the “IPC Pathways career experience database”), here are eight tips for using the database to start conversations with Immanuel mentors:

First, you should review the Pathways website generally, and in particular the seekers page for tips on selecting mentors, issuing the invitation for a cup of coffee, and making the most out of your conversations.

Second, save Airtable in your favorites.  Here again is the link to Airtable for your convenience: https://airtable.com/tblQHcY1S7ptwhXX6/viwC0nBxUTKfnPxiH?blocks=hide

Airtable will help you if you forget your user name or password.  You can also add it as an app for Android or iPhone.    You’ll want to go back to it from time to time to initiate new conversations.  Also, new Immanuel mentors are joining all the time.

Third, try playing around with the Airtable format.  There are also videos and user-friendly tips on the site to improve your experience.

Image of the IPC Pathways Airtable mentor base

  • For example, under the tab “seeker profiles” in the upper left hand corner of the IPC Pathways career experience base, you’ll see a “Grid view” and a “Gallery” view in the drop down options. Try each format to see which one you like better. In Grid, if you hover over a name, there is a diagonal arrow immediately to the left of the name.  Click on it and the entire profile pops up.  In Gallery view, just click anywhere and you see the whole profile.
  • In the upper right, there is a search button. Try career words (“government,” “legal,” etc.) and other words to narrow your searches. The search feature works better in the “Grid view.”
  • If you let your cursor hover over a cell, it will show all the words in the cell.
  • You can “roll” the columns that are farther to the right to display those you’re interested in next to the mentor names.
  • Some in the table have invited you to connect with them in LinkedIn. The link is included.  Take advantage of it!   You’ll learn more about them and see their contacts.

Fourth, don’t stop at one conversation.  Mentors might suggest others for you to talk with, and whether or not they do, you should go back to the database after you’ve completed a conversation and look for others.  It’s best to have them one at a time, but you’re not limited in the number of conversations you can have!

Also, while we recommend in-person conversations, some seekers and mentors are not in the McLean area.  Phone conversations are fine, as are phone conversations for those who can’t schedule the time for coffee.  But in-person is always the best if you can do it!

Fifth, go back to the Airtable database regularly. New mentors are continuing to register, so you’ll find new people to connect with.  Also, your interests, and what you are looking for from mentors, may change from time to time.

Sixth, as the registration form suggests, we are here to help you pick people to connect with, and otherwise assist in the introduction process if you’d like.  Just reach out to either of us.   You can email me or  Lynley Ogilvie or find us however you like.

Seventh,  please see our Privacy Policy, which is linked at the bottom of each page of the website and which you can see here.

Eighth, please give us feedback.  Tell us about your experiences, both good and bad, with the database, with setting up and participating in conversations, and anything else.

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