NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Having a good mentor immerses those learning into the learning process. That is why for the past year, NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Norfolk has regularly conducted “speed-mentoring” sessions.
“We try to adapt the same principles of speed dating except with mentors and mentees” said Logistics Specialist First Class Venicia Murphy, one of the facilitators of the program. “Our command is spread out over a wide footprint and has a large number of senior enlisted leadership that junior Sailors do not get a chance to see or interact with.”
With typical military assignments lasting two or three years, there are a lot of moving parts involved so you never know when you might cross paths with someone who could be the perfect mentor for you. That is why it is important for the program to continue on a regular basis. According to NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Command Master Chief Scott Haas, who oversees the command’s mentorship program, it will. “The facilitators are chosen by me as a collateral duty assignment and the mentors are chosen by the facilitators,” said Haas. “They try get as wide a range of experience as possible from the E6 and above. These mentoring sessions will continue to be scheduled quarterly.”
The speed mentoring events give Sailors the opportunity to talk to leaders and pick who they would like to be their mentor. Each Sailor is allotted five minutes before they move to the next table to speak with another potential mentor. “We generally get asked for more time which is a good thing for us because that tells us the program is working,” said Murphy.
The most recent speed mentoring event on Feb. 12 in the Robert Jack Room in Building W-143 aboard Naval Station Norfolk had about 20 mentors and 30 Sailors participating, which meant that some Sailors paired up to meet with the various mentors. Whether meeting one on one or two on one, the events are a great way for junior Sailors to find someone who they might not have otherwise met to help guide them through early career decisions and development. “I like the process of speed mentoring because it gives you the opportunity to experience many different leaders’ viewpoints based on their varied experiences that they have had during their career,” said Retail Services Specialist Second Class Victoria Highsmith. “The best part for me was getting to speak to my leadership on an informal level. I was able to ask real questions and get real answers. It helps to realize they are no different than you are. They are just at a different stage of the journey.”
Speed mentoring is at least as fulfilling for mentors and facilitators as it is for the mentees. “To participate in an event like this is extremely satisfying,” said Logistics Specialist First Class Robert Stanley, one of the facilitators. “Given the opportunity to speak with our junior Sailors on a more individual basis and getting to know one another a little better allows us to better advise them and encourage them better personally and professionally. It also allows us to learn from them as well.”
Five minutes may not seem like enough time to get to know a potential mentor, but in some cases it could be the most important five minutes of a young Sailor’s life. “I feel like first impressions are the most important and vital,” said Logistics Specialist Second Class Mellisa Hankins. “You only remember so much information but you will never forget a vibe. It was a great way to see who just clicks for you and jot down important information. I would love to participate in future speed mentoring and I highly suggest it to other junior Sailors.”
NAVSUP FLC Norfolk is one of eight FLCs under Commander, NAVSUP. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP's mission is to provide supplies, services, and quality-of-life support to the Navy and joint warfighter.
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