FAQ and Statistics
Where can I find general information about the program and/or an application?
Right here. Go to http://womenscsa.com/mentoring_app to join the mentoring program now!
How does WCSA match participants?
The Women’s Congressional Staff Association (WCSA) mentoring questionnaire allows participants to give information about themselves and about their ideal mentor. Once applications are received, we divide them into five broad categories representing their level of advancement and match them according to seniority, experience, and personal and professional interests. We then match mentors with mentees.
If I am already a participant, do I need to apply again each semester?
Yes. This helps us keep track of each semester's applicants and prevents us from assigning mentees to previous mentors.
What if I have a potential conflict of interest with my mentor?
Our mentorship program is only open to female hill staffers, so you should not run into any conflicts of interest. However, on the off chance that one semester we open it up to non-Hill staffers, WCSA gives mentors 72 hours to report a potential conflict of interest with the mentee they have been assigned. For example, a conflict of interest may occur when a lobbyist has been assigned a mentee they lobby.
Why doesn't my mentor fit the description I requested?
WCSA invites applicants to provide a description of their ideal mentor, but, in practice, we are limited to the pool of applicants for a given semester. In many cases, mid-level mentors have only a few more years of work experience, but possess some key knowledge or experience the mentee is seeking. We are always in need of more women to serve as mentors. Know someone who would make a great mentor? Email us!
FAQs for Mentors
When should I reach out to my mentee?
If you received an email with your mentee's contact information, you are expected to reach out to her proactively ASAP to set up a meeting time within two weeks. Our system of prompting the mentor (rather than the mentee) runs counter to conventional wisdom, but is designed to give busy mentors more flexibility in how and when they respond to prompts.
How often am I expected to meet with my mentee?
The frequency of your meetings should be determined at the outset of your relationship. However, we strongly encourage mentors and their mentees to meet at least once a month, and communicate more frequently.
What should I do with my mentee?
That’s up to you! We recommend starting out with a chat over coffee or lunch. But your interaction doesn’t need to be limited to that. Take your mentee to networking events, briefings, or anywhere that the two of you can engage with common interests.
At the outset, you and your mentee should set expectations and goals for your relationship. How frequently do you want to meet? What kind of advice are you willing to give? Are you willing to share business contacts?
FAQs for Mentees
Is it okay for me to email my mentor in between meetings?
Your first meeting with your mentor may feel more like an informational interview. In addition to the standard getting-to-know-you small talk, WCSA strongly encourages mentor-mentee pairs to discuss their goals and expectations for the relationship over the three-month program. This includes a conversation about boundaries; many pairs may fall into a relationship that feels more like a friendship, while others will need to balance their need for guidance against their mentor's busy schedule. At the end of the semester, you will have the opportunity to evaluate the program, the match, and your mentor's responsiveness.
I don't think my mentor will be helpful to me. Can I swap or withdraw?
We are confident that the mentors we have assigned possess some key knowledge or experience requested by the mentee. However, not all pairs will "click"--and they don't have to. Our program runs for three months, not only so that participants can develop a relationship, but also so that we can introduce people to different women every year. If, after your initial meeting, you wish to withdraw, you may do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in mind, your application will be removed from consideration for the subsequent semester.
What should I do with my mentor?
The program is structured so that the mentor should take the lead initially. During your first meeting with your mentor, you should both discuss expectations and what you want to get out of the relationship, whether it’s business contacts, a long-term mentoring relationship, or simply someone to go to when you need advice. This expectation-setting can go a long way in helping both of you feel comfortable and make sure you get the mentoring experience you want. In your first meeting, it may be helpful to find out your mentor’s background and career history. Ask questions about her past experience and challenges. And make sure to tell your mentor about yourself, too. Finally, don’t be shy! Consider the expectations set out at the beginning, but don’t be afraid to contact your mentor. A great relationship isn’t one-sided; it’s built by both parties.
What happens after the program ends is up to you and your mentor. If you clicked, great! Your relationship doesn’t have to end just because the program did. If not, you have no obligation to continue meeting. Consider applying again to WCSA’s mentoring program the next time applications are open.
Have a question not answered here? Email us!