By Carmen Monroy and Jorge Puente

Carmen: When APA Florida asked if I would mentor a junior planner, my immediate reaction was yes, absolutely. The planner in me wants to share my experience and knowledge, help someone prepare for the future and make the most of their career opportunities. The business side of me knows that mentoring is a great investment of my time and resources.

Jorge: I think it’s any young planner’s dream to be mentored by a successful leader already established in the planning industry. The principal goal of the student is to acquire as much industry knowledge as possible and establish a solid network of both students and professionals to maximize opportunities after graduation.

Meet us. My name is Carmen Monroy and I am the Director of Policy Planning with the Florida Department of Transportation. Jorge Puente is a second-year student at FSU’s Planning School. We connected through APA Florida’s formal mentoring program through the Capital Area Section.

As planners, we predictably approached our mentoring with a methodical ordered plan which included scheduling regular meetings, setting expectations on both sides and talking through what we wanted as successful outcomes. We set one rule for every meeting – each of us would come with an “ask.” Each meeting we catch up briefly and then get right to work on the “ask” part. Jorge has asked me to review his resume and letters of interest. When he was applying for an internship, we worked through a mock interview, complete with surprise questions. I’ve asked Jorge to listen to a presentation, attend a Women in Transportation meeting with me and talked through generational perceptions.

Additionally, through Jorge’s internship experiences, he sees the complex relationships that exist in the Florida planning world and has seen me (Carmen) interact with stakeholders in multiple ongoing projects and efforts.

Today’s business climate is changing traditional mentoring. Once seen as a senior-junior relationship of knowledge transfer - workplace diversity, rapidly changing technology, automation, and lessons learned has made mentoring much more dynamic. The mentoring relationships now last longer, are more collaborative and move through career progression. Mentoring has become more than just a one-on-one conversation.

Mentoring today works to connect resources, develop peer networks and boost networking opportunities. In the planning field, where the profession touches so many fields of practice, the business reasons for creating opportunities for mentoring are limitless and as mentoring has changed, leaders like APA Florida are taking mentoring to a new level. Be a mentor!