Mentoring Initiatives for Young and Emerging Evaluators by Evan Poncelet

Evan Poncelet
Evan Poncelet

Hi, AEA365ers! I’m Evan Poncelet, REAL Evaluation Fellow at the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation in Halifax, Canada. Last year, as a young and emerging evaluator, I decided to seek out a mentor through the Canadian Evaluation Society’s mentoring initiative. Fast forward to the present day: I recently concluded my mentorship, which was a fantastic experience. I feel that such an experience should be open to all newcomers to the field. But what mentorship opportunities are available?

Rad Resource: List of evaluation mentoring initiatives.

As additional mentoring initiatives emerge, this list will be updated here.

Hot Tip: Mentorships vary.

There are differences in factors like eligibility criteria, program goals, and expected time commitment. So, be sure to review the specifics of an initiative before diving into an application.

Hot Tip: Informal mentorships are another option.

Many evaluators receive mentoring outside of formal initiatives. If interested, consider getting in touch with an experienced evaluator as many are eager to help mentor the field’s future professionals. You can reach evaluators through local firms and business, evaluation programs at educational institutions, voluntary organizations for program evaluation, or social media platforms such as Twitter (try #eval, #evaluation, or #EvalTwitter).

Lesson Learned: Mentoring initiatives can help to establish your identity as a professional.

Some commonly cited benefits of mentorships (for both mentors and mentees) include increased skills and knowledge, expanded professional networks, and encountering new perspectives (more can be found at Better Evaluation).

I can offer anecdotal evidence that, yes, these benefits are real. However, perhaps the most salient outcome for me – one I don’t often see listed – was forming a stronger identity as an evaluator. Just knowing that I had a professional relationship with an experienced, respected, and skilled evaluator made me feel like I was part of the “in-group” of evaluators and on the right career track. What’s the old adage – it’s not just what you know, but who you know?

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