We talked recently about steps you can take to build a career in student transportation, whether it’s as a school bus driver, monitor, dispatcher, or technician. This week, we’re discussing another vitally important aspect of student transportation careers: mentorship.
What is a mentor?
Mentorship in student transportation helps foster career growth and satisfaction – support that’s particularly important for school bus drivers, who are in high demand throughout the US. Simply put, a mentor is an experienced professional who provides guidance and encouragement at work. Mentors might be school bus contractors but can also be any knowledgeable team member willing to share industry knowledge. They can have a real impact on helping newcomers navigate the complexities of the field, develop relevant skills, and advance in their careers.
In our next post, we’ll discuss how to seek out a mentor at work. This week, we’re digging into the skills and experiences that go into mentorship.
How can experienced workers serve as mentors?
While some organizations have formal mentorship programs, informal relationships are also very common. For experienced workers who want to “give back” by encouraging the career growth of less experienced team members, here are some key steps you can take:
Share your knowledge
As an experienced student transportation professional, you have an understanding of the job that goes beyond formal training and certification. If the opportunity to mentor a team member arises, begin by asking yourself one question: “What do I wish I had known about driving a school bus when I was first starting out?” You may decide to share your insights into best practices, time management, or communication skills, all of which can be very valuable to your mentee’s professional development.
Make a personal connection
Mentorship is built on a one-on-one connection, where you can tailor advice and guidance specifically to your mentee. Take a personalized approach, helping them identify the aspects of student transportation they find most engaging, their professional strengths, and areas where they’d like to improve. Identifying these components will help them map out a career plan.
Boost their spirits
Even the best workers have an occasional low-confidence moment at work. Entering a new industry or workplace, or even taking on a bigger role at a current job, can be daunting. A good mentor tries to be a source of encouragement, boosting a mentee’s confidence while they tackle new challenges.
Leverage your network
Because mentors are typically seasoned professionals, they often have a broad network of contacts within the student transportation industry. If the opportunity comes up to introduce your mentee to a business contact, go for it. You’ll broaden your mentee’s horizons and demonstrate your own value as a connector and network builder. And don’t forget your internal network! Many school bus contractors have internal employee recognition programs, which can be a great way to acknowledge your mentee’s accomplishments or positive attitude.
Give meaningful feedback
Constructive feedback is crucial to professional growth. By offering thoughtful input on your mentee’s skills and performance, you can help them identify areas for training or practice and encourage a continuous learning mindset. And remember, meaningful feedback is all in the delivery. A little kindness goes a long way!
Help with career goals
One of the most important things you can do for your mentee is help him or her set actionable career goals. If a monitor, for instance, wants to become a school bus driver, you can talk about the necessary training and certifications, and build out a realistic timeline. By developing achievable goals, you and your mentee can determine what success looks like to them, then create the roadmap that helps them get there.
Mentorship starts with teamwork
Mentorship can be a transformative experience for aspiring student transportation professionals, helping them build their careers and make a positive, long-term contribution to the industry – and it always begins with teamwork. If you’re seeking a team that knows school bus drivers are HEROES, visit our partner, Krise Transportation.
If you’re seeking a career in student transportation, reach out to us. We’d love to learn more about you.
American Student Transportation Partners (ASTP) is a national network of reliable student transportation providers. We’re driving the future of student transportation by providing access to education through safe, dependable student transportation programs. Exceptional bus operators choose ASTP because of our innovative approach to partnership, as well as the resources we provide to help “future-proof” their operations.
To learn more about partnering with ASTP, contact Tod Eskra, President, at [email protected] or call (314) 560-5946.