When Eric Jackson of 3M Company signed up as a MentorNet mentor, he wasn’t optimistic. Though he is an avid believer in the value of mentoring, he hadn’t had much luck.
“I want to do something that can give [protégés] positive incentives, help them do well, and tell them what my experiences have been,” he says. “But you get through the introductions and then it fizzles out.”
Fortunately, Jackson, a chemical engineer, was matched with Megan Hammon, a determined and focused undergraduate engineering major at the University of Missouri, Rolla. Three years later, the pair are fast friends. Hammon and her family have visited Jackson in Minnesota, and in May, Jackson and his wife made the trip to Rolla for Hammon’s graduation.
“I’ve gotten so many things out of our relationship,” says Jackson. “I enjoy inspiring people and motivating them. It’s like when you plant a seed and see it grow; it’s so satisfying.”
Nurturing and support for students is a main reason 3M is involved in MentorNet, says Rosalie Clemens, who coordinates the MentorNet program at 3M, where she is an advanced research engineer at an Austin, Texas, facility. More than 450 3M employees in 18 countries have been involved with MentorNet since the company signed on in 2001.
“Our primary goal is the support of highly motivated female students in the sciences and engineering,” says Clemens, noting that 3M supports many educational programs around the world. “By supporting a program that’s geared toward the advancement of women in the technical fields, we foster equality while maintaining women in the workforce.”
Recruiting promising graduates through mentoring isn’t a goal for 3M, although it does help students learn about the company as a potential employer and enables 3M to identify promising candidates, Clemens says.
Like many companies that support mentoring programs such as MentorNet, 3M realizes more immediate benefits:
Mentoring enhances such professional skills as communication, management, and coaching; and working with students brings a fresh perspective to 3M’s internal mentoring programs, notes Clemens.
Moreover, the personal satisfaction derived from mentoring energizes employees and gives them increased job satisfaction and commitment. In Clemens’ survey of 3M mentors, an overwhelming majority (99 percent) of participants said MentorNet is a valuable and rewarding experience.
“It does energize me, and it has motivated me,” says Jackson, who wants to be matched with another protégé. “I hope there will be more Megan Hammons. It isn’t just mentor-protégé, it’s a lifelong friendship.”
To read about Rosalie Clemens’ experience as a protégé, see the Insights profile, “A Match Made by Computer—Or Fate?”