10 minute mentorship for enrollment professionals

November 26, 2018
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  • mentorship
audience members converse with one another while sitting in their auditorium chairs

by Kimberley Buster-Williams, Vice President for Enrollment Management at University of Mary Washington and Assistant Director of AACRAO SEM Endorsement Program

Before this inaugural session at the AACRAO Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) Conference, I had never participated in any type of “speed dating” activity. I had heard of speed dating and understood the basic concept: You have a certain amount of time (3-5 minutes) to meet several prospective “dates.”  The Ten Minute Mentoring session at the conference was modeled on this concept. The idea of spending ten minutes in a fast-paced, timed session with colleagues seeking feedback and/or advice was strangely appealing. I was fortunate to serve as a mentor in this scenario. Let the games begin!

Start the Clock!
Participants were asked to come prepared to talk about their career goals. A seasoned enrollment professional, in turn, would give suggestions regarding next steps. The facilitator mentioned that this was the first time attempting this kind of activity as a conference session. She remarked that we were her “Guinea pigs.” 

Ready, Set, Go!
Our facilitator was armed with stop watches and swiftly arranged us into groups of two. Mentor/mentee dyads were scattered throughout the room. Approximately 16 mentees and 8 mentors participated. Mentors were given the option of using their phones or stop watches; most opted to use their phones. Final instructions included which way we would rotate and a reminder to watch the time. 

Feel, Felt, Found
Going into this session, I had decided to use the Feel, Felt, Found technique (as appropriate). This technique is a proven strategy as it relates to moving someone gently to a new way of thinking.

There are three separate parts to Feel, Felt, Found:
1. “I understand how you feel.” This wording lets a someone know that you heard him or her and can relate.
2. “Initially, I felt that way.” You are letting him or her know that this initial thought is common, meaning that the situation can change.
3. “What I found, however, was that after doing X, Y happened." 

Below are a few examples of the kind of career advice people were seeking answers to:

  • I need more data experience and can’t get it where I am.  How should I proceed?
  • Should I get a master’s degree in education or business? 
  • I just finished my Ph.D… Now what?
  • How do you move up the career ladder when you’re place bound?
  • I want to learn more about this field. 

I gave specific advice, using the feel, felt, and found approach, and of course, offered my business card to everyone I met.  Thankfully, I was able to stay on time. After my first “date,” I realized how quickly 10 minutes goes by.

I felt that the session was a success. Ten minutes was just enough time to discuss one or two pressing topics. Five minutes wouldn’t have been long enough and 15 minutes would have been too long.

Because participants weren’t looking for their soul mate (smile) -- only career advice -- there didn’t appear to be many awkward exchanges. I hope this session is repeated at future AACRAO conferences.  As the saying goes, dreams and uncertainty go hand in hand. Life on the periphery feels safer, but for some it can also be unfulfilling. This 10-minute speed mentoring activity is a fantastic way for more seasoned professionals to give back and share what they’ve experienced in the enrollment management profession, and in some cases, how they have responded to life on the proverbial periphery. Onward!

Watch upcoming issues of AACRAO Connect for our new column "The Three-Minute Mentor." Do you have questions but no mentor, or are you brimming with advice but have no mentee? Please let us know -- maybe you can inspire a future column.


The Feel, Felt, Found Strategy. Retrieved from:



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