Mentoring Reflections: Jamie Burns & Eric Wayne Dickey

Welcome to the second installment of Mentoring Reflections! This time, we chatted with Eric Wayne Dickey who is at Western Oregon University and served as mentor to Jamie Burns at Arizona State University. 

A reminder that the NORDP Mentoring Program is open for applications; consider applying!

  • What influenced you to apply to be a mentor and a mentee for the 2020-21 NORDP Mentoring Program?

Eric: My previous institution had a job performance coaching program where I learned the value of mentoring as a mentee. I was then encouraged to become a mentor. I was a little reluctant at first but decided to ignore my own self-doubt. And I have never looked back. 

When I changed institutions, I was suddenly without a mentoring program, so I joined the NORDP Mentoring Program and now serve on the Mentoring Committee Leadership Team. 

Meeting with mentees inspires me. It takes a commitment to the self and a bravery to reach out for guidance. Mentoring reminds me to continue to develop my own professional self. I often joke with my mentees that by the end of our mentoring compact, it is they who will be mentoring and inspiring me. And so far, that has been true with every person I have mentored.

Jamie: Throughout my life and career, I have been very fortunate to have had incredible mentors. In realizing how these individuals have shaped my life, I was very intrigued when I learned of the NORDP mentoring program. I joined the program because I wanted to find a mentor within RD. I thought mentorship would help me gain better insight into the field and guide me on ways I can contribute to RD both inside and outside of my institution.

  • What was your favorite part about your relationship?

Eric: My current mentee inspires me. She is driven. She is successful. Being with people like this is my favorite part of mentoring.

Another favorite part is the trust and confidence mentees have in me. It is a sacred agreement. It takes a leap of faith for mentees to reach out. Providing a safe space and confidential guidance are why I am there.

Jamie: I was very thankful for the openness of my mentor to listen and share. I wasn’t sure what to expect when the program began; but, I found that I not only gained a mentor, but an ally who listened to what I was thinking, helped me consider multiple perspectives and possibilities, and ultimately encouraged and supported the decisions I made. 

  • What surprised you about being a mentor or a mentee?

Eric: I have mentored more than a dozen people. I thought I was alone out there in this crazy world. Alone with my self-doubt, with my imposter syndrome, and with my crazy notion to be a nice person that helps people. What surprised me most is learning how much need there is out there for positive role models and interactions. Some previous mentees have had some real challenges in their work environments, with their tasks and with their colleagues. Mentoring helps normalize things. We all face similar struggles. Helping people resolve their work-related issues is very rewarding.

Jamie: After hearing about the mentor/mentee program, I assumed the program would provide a strict structure to define the engagement. I was surprised that there wasn’t a set structure. Beyond the initial interactions with the NORDP member who coordinated and paired us, it was up to my mentor and me to determine what worked best for us. This flexibility was great as it allowed us to customize our interactions so that my mentor could help me achieve specific goals.

  • How has participation in the Mentoring Program helped broaden your horizons about Research Development in general and/or affected your daily work in particular?

Eric: Mentoring colleagues has been a great way to help me better mentor the faculty I serve. It’s helped me improve my conversational and deep listening skills. Mentoring has helped me improve my own work environments and to better advocate for myself. It is a win-win-win, for the mentee, for the mentor, and for their institutions.

Jamie: It was a huge benefit to have mentorship from an RD professional at a different institution because my mentor could offer different perspectives about RD. By combining the best practices my mentor shared with me with the best practices I’ve learned from my mentors at ASU, I gained a broader understanding of RD. 

  • Any words of wisdom or encouragement for those wanting to apply next year? Any other thoughts you would like to share? 

Eric: Don’t wait to become your best self. Start now.

Jamie: If you’re thinking about mentoring, I would recommend the NORDP Mentor Training program. My mentor encouraged me to attend this training, and it was a great experience! The program helped me develop the confidence to mentor in the future.

If you would like to share your mentoring story, please contact mentorprogram@nordp.org.

Applications for the 2021-2022 NORDP Mentoring Program are now open and will be accepted through June 7, 2021.