Are you an experienced landscape architecture professional interested in being a mentor for an LAF Ignite student?
LAF maintains a list of potential mentors and works with each Ignite participant to match them to a mentor who will work with the student for the duration of their time in the LAF Ignite program and hopefully beyond through a continued professional relationship.
The mentorship component of LAF Ignite fosters meaningful, intergenerational and supportive relationships between Ignite students and landscape architecture professionals. Mentors provide guidance and support to help the students identify and pursue their career goals. The mentorship is intended to be an engaging personal and professional growth experience for mentors and mentees alike.
LAF is looking for compassionate and understanding mentors who are ready to learn and grow with the Ignite students. These relationships are interpersonal and require a commitment of emotional support as well as time.
The mentorship component of Ignite incorporates values and strategies used across LAF programs such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), transformational leadership, and intergenerational mentorship. It is built on three core principles.
- Trust. Trust is key in successful mentor/mentee relationships and is built over time through commitment, mutual respect, and open communication. It requires that participants feel comfortable and secure in being their most authentic selves and that participants create a safe, trusting space to support this.
- Respect. Respect is earned through commitment, consistency, and understanding on the part of both the mentor and mentee. Developing a level of mutual respect requires showing up when expected, actively listening, and remaining open throughout the process.
- Communication. Clear and open communication is the foundation of a meaningful mentor/mentee relationship and determining best forms of communication, expectations, goals, and values upfront is critical.
Mentors must be landscape architecture professionals at the mid-career level or higher (minimum of 6 years of professional experience). Retired professionals who are still engaged with the discipline may apply.
Mentors do not need to be people of color, though BIPOC landscape architects are highly encouraged to apply. While some Ignite students may opt for a mentor of the same gender or race/ethnicity to help them navigate particular challenges, others may choose mentors based on career path, geographic location, or other factors.
Mentors must have an existing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), understand the value of intergenerational mentorship, and be dedicated to building a relationship based on trust, respect, and communication.
When matched with an Ignite student, mentors commit to actively participating in mentorship for the duration of the student’s time in the LAF Ignite program (until graduation) and hopefully beyond. For the first year, the mentor and student will meet for 1-2 hours per month to build the foundation of their relationship. These meetings may be virtual, by phone, and/or in-person at mutually agreed upon times. After the first year, the mentor and mentee will determine how frequently to meet.
Mentor responsibilities include:
- Participating in a mentorship orientation session
- Establishing an environment that allows for a relationship built on trust and mutual respect, including maintaining confidentiality and creating a safe space for the mentee to express themself
- Meeting regularly with the mentee based on a mutually agreed upon schedule
- Supporting the mentee throughout the Ignite program with academic, relational, and professional support
- Supporting the mentee in developing the skills necessary to navigate professional design careers
LAF will conduct periodic check-ins with both the mentor and mentee, including a formal 6-month check-in to determine if the relationship is working for both parties. If it is not a good fit, the student will be matched to a different mentor. Formal check-ins will take place annually to ensure the relationship continues to be beneficial to both the mentor and mentee.
Mentor Application and Selection Process
Each year in late winter, LAF accepts applications from potential mentors for the newest cohort of LAF Ignite students. During the application window, further information and a link to apply will be posted here.
LAF reviews each application to ensure that the applicant meets the requirements to be an Ignite mentor and will follow up if there are any questions or areas that require further discussion. The list of potential mentors and their application materials will be provided to each Ignite participant for their consideration. LAF works with each Ignite student to identify their mentorship priorities based on current needs, career goals, areas of interest, and other preferences and helps the student with the selection process. Once the student has selected a mentor, LAF will contact the mentor to confirm the match and set up an initial introduction and orientation meeting.
Because Ignite students will have different wants and needs for the mentorship, LAF wishes to provide them with a variety of options for potential mentors. LAF cannot guarantee that a mentor applicant who meets the requirements will be matched with a student. The LAF Ignite program has 4 student participants in its inaugural year and will gradually build to 15 students. As such, LAF expects to have many more mentors available than students, particularly in the early years.
If you meet the requirements but are not matched with a student, your application will be kept on file with the option to renew for the following year without the need to re-submit a full application. You may also choose to be contacted by a student to arrange a one-time meeting to discuss your experience, area of interest, or career path.
Interested in being a mentor but unable to make an ongoing commitment? You can sign up to be added to LAF’s list of landscape architecture professionals who are available for 1-2 calls with the Ignite students to discuss specific areas of interest or experience. Just complete the mentorship application and select the option to be added to LAF's list of those available for a one-time meeting with an Ignite student(s).