Monthly Archives: December 2009

PA eMentor Spotlight: Pittsburgh Regional Compact


From Both Sides: Real-world Mentoring Experiences
Told By Those Walking the Talk

Mentoring is a highly personal way for a professional to influence a young person’s life and his or her thinking regarding career awareness and exploration. Done online or in person, mentoring can offer much to not only the mentee, but the mentor as well.

If you’ve been thinking about becoming a mentor, this special feature with candid answers to questions about the experience, can help you determine whether e-mentoring or in-person mentoring is better for you.


Courtney Pack is a special events coordinator with the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC’s Medical and Health Sciences Foundation. She is an e-mentor with PA SmartFutures. Here’s what she had to say:

Describe why you chose the mentoring opportunity that you did.
It’s very important to give young adults the tools necessary to help build their futures.  For most high school students, choosing a career path and discovering the options after high school can be confusing and intimidating. I remember feeling that way. Speaking with a “professional” in a particular field gives a student personal experience and advice.  I chose to become an e-Mentor to help advise a student with post-high school options. The unique opportunity that PA e-mentoring provides allows both a professional and student to communicate in a safe environment and to participate in an online curriculum. This option was very convenient for me and for many students.

Define one mentoring challenge or obstacle that you’ve faced.  What did you do to overcome it?
A challenge that I faced as an e-mentor was being paired with a student interested in a career path that I was unfamiliar with.  It was difficult to speak from personal experience in that field, but I was still able to help the student discover what to look for in a college and how to gain extracurricular experience. I also contacted a friend who was in the career field that interested the student for advice.

Define one mentoring “mountaintop” moment.  What might you do to create more of these?
A “mountaintop” moment for me was one when a student e-mailed me to express appreciation for my detailed responses and for the options I provided that otherwise might not have been considered. We built a great personal and professional rapport online.

How do your gauge your success as a mentor?
As a mentor, I can only gauge my success on the feedback that I get from the students. Some students are more engaged than others. I hope that the advice I provided through our e-mail communications helped the students make the right decisions for their futures … or that they at least considered other options. It would be wonderful to track their success after the program.

How do you want your mentee to remember you?
I would like my mentee(s) to remember me as a helpful resource in selecting their career path.  Whether my advice helped them chose a college, program or career path, I am glad I was able to be a part of their decision. 

What is your time commitment to mentoring?  What’s your strategy for remaining loyal to that commitment and your mentee?
Just like everyone else, I am busy with work, family and other activities.  Participating as an e-mentor takes minimal time each week, literally minutes, to send an e-mail and complete an activity.  The program sends you reminders and tracks your activity status.  As a mentor, I am responsible to complete the activities and provide feedback in a timely manner.

What would you say to a potential mentor who needs some motivation to become engaged?
Anyone can become an e-mentor if he or she has access to the Internet and several minutes each week.  I think back to when I was in high school and was undecided about my future – especially since I was one of the first individuals in my family to attend college.  Having a program like PA e-Mentor would have been really helpful to me then. It allows students to consider their options especially around certain careers. As a professional in a career of interest to a student, I can conveniently participate in an online engagement that makes an impact on a young person’s life.

Article Spotlight: Pennsylvania Career Education Update by The Gov Monitor

Web source:

Pennsylvania Prepares Youth For Workplace Success

Source: Governor of Pennsylvania           
Posted on: 2nd December 2009


Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Sandi Vito and Department of Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak today discussed how to better prepare youth for success in the workplace by improving the state’s youth career development programs and services.

“To help Pennsylvania’s workforce recover from the national recession we must be dually focused on immediate solutions to get Pennsylvanians back to work, and on making that recovery sustainable by properly preparing our youth for the careers and economy of the future,” Vito said during a panel discussion at the Pennsylvania Youth Services Academy conference in Grantville.

“We have a unique, award-winning system of partnerships, service providers and workforce investment boards providing career education here in Pennsylvania,” Zahorchak said. “It’s critical that we continue to hold these discussions, develop innovative policies and explore strategic partnerships to keep building upon that success in the future.”

The conference, themed “Building for Recovery: Empowering Pennsylvania Youth,” runs through Dec. 2. It provides a forum to share best practices, develop solutions to workforce and education challenges and discuss the future of youth employment programs and services in Pennsylvania. Attendees include several Pennsylvania youth participants, along with representatives from Pennsylvania’s Regional Career Education Partnerships, or RCEPs, local workforce investment boards, youth services providers and other practitioners involved in youth workforce development across the state.

Pennsylvania already has several successful workforce development initiatives focused on youth. RCEPs were recently received the “State Excellence Award for Leadership” from the National Association of State Workforce Agencies for being an outstanding workforce-related program. Pennsylvania’s RCEPs connect businesses, education, and communities to prepare Pennsylvania’s future workforce. The 22 partnerships across the state provide more than 323,000 students better opportunities to gain the knowledge, skills and work-based learning critical for success in college and careers.

Pennsylvania’s Summer Youth Employment Program was a major focus of the conference. Feedback from this past summer, as well as recommendations for future programming, will be gathered during the conference for inclusion in a tool kit to be provided to participants at a later date.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Youth Services Academy, visit

Smart Futures Participates in the “Gong Show: Kids & Creativity”

On November 17, the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum hosted the “Gong Show” highlighting youth projects throughout Pittsburgh. The projects included presentations by Attack Theatre, BeatBots LLC, Pittsburgh Toonseum, Art Energy Design, and many others.

Among the projects, Smart Futures exhibited the opportunities of our PA eMentoring program for Pennsylvania students. In order to keep the creative mood flowing, David Mosey, Kristina Cenkner, and Romy Banks peformed a fun skit simulating the PA eMentoring experience between the teacher, mentor, and student.

With bangs of the gong, some laughs, and a few surprises, initiatives toward youth development took the spotlight. Many organizations are dedicated to providing educational services for Pittsburgh’s kids and the “Gong Show” displayed the variety of education available. Smart Futures was proud to participate in the event and be an example of youth development services Pittsburgh has to offer.

To see a photo slide show of the event go to: