Links and Shoulders: Division 45’s Mentoring Program
Submitted by Shamin Jaffer, Psy.D
November 7, 2005
The Links and Shoulders program was founded in the mid 1990’s at the Annual APA convention by Vera Paster, Ph.D. The program responded to a need to support ethnic minority graduate students in their academic careers. The nature of the program was to promote an intimate setting in which students had the opportunity to meet and network with professionals in the field. The hope was that these meetings would turn into long term mentoring relationships designed to support the student throughout the development of their career. The program has been implemented annually as a social hour and more recently has been hosted and funded by the current President of APA. Phil Zimbardo, Ph.D. was the first president to host the annual Links and Shoulders Mentoring social hour. In 2001, Links and Shoulders program outgrew the Division 45 hospitality suite and has been held as standard programming every subsequent year.
Attendees fill out forms that have information specific to being a mentor or mentee. For mentees, information, such as interests and needs from a mentor is included and for mentors, their expertise is listed. Mentors and mentees are encouraged to make a connection during the social hour but in the event that they do not make a connection, their form is used to match them up with a professional that has shared expertise and interests. Executive committee members of Division 45 are active during this event to ensure students ease in connecting with other professionals.
Following the convention, emails are sent to mentees and mentors to check on progress and encourage dialogue between the dyad. In the event that a mentee has not been contacted, a new mentor is assigned. The Links and Shoulders Chair is responsible for facilitating this process.
For future programming of the Links and Shoulders mentoring program it has been discussed to make the hour more formal and less social. The idea would be to allow an hour in which students could sit down with potential mentors for a face-to-face conversation about interests, needs, research ideas, etc.. The program would be formal in that prior to the event students would be able to sign up to meet with certain professionals during that hour to maximize their mentoring experience. A limited amount of students would be allotted to each professional to make for a more intimate experience. As part of the 20 th Anniversary Celebration of Div 45, we also plan to identify some of the original Links and Shoulders program student mentees who will share words of wisdom as they move into the role of mentor. Other aspects of the program are still being developed to be implemented for APA 2006.
Links and Shoulders program has been instrumental in the lives of many ethnic minority graduate students in psychology. Students have felt that this program has connected them to committee involvement, research opportunities, presentations, and careers. The program will continue its mission to connect students of color with professionals to help ensure the diversification of the field of psychology.
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