Founded in 2003, AcademyWomen is a leadership and professional development organization supporting all current, former and future women military officers to achieve their highest potential as leaders. To achieve this mission, AcademyWomen also serves all veterans (women and men) and military spouses. AcademyWomen has provided leadership development opportunities for over 11 years through leadership symposia, career-coaching workshops, and through its cutting edge web-based mentoring program, the eMentor Leadership Program.
The eMentor Program is a powerful online mentoring program for military personnel, veterans and military spouses. eMentor connects individuals for dynamic mentoring experiences that powerfully move them forward in their personal and professional lives. To achieve the best possible outcomes for all participants, AcademyWomen partners with 42 different partner organizations who support eMentor by bringing to the program highly motivated volunteer mentors from their employees, members or clients. Program partners include the US Chamber Foundation, Toyota, GE, Deloitte, Capital One, Military Officers Association of America, International Women’s Think Tank, Military Spouse Employment Partnership and SpouseLink.
Current Initiatives: Veteran and Military Spouse eMentor
The eMentor Program provides leadership development for personal and professional growth to 4,500 veterans, military spouses, and military women around the world. Fully one quarter of participating veteran protégés are women. In partnership with the Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative eMentor provides mentorship support to military veterans and military spouses in the Veteran and Military Spouse eMentor Programs. With veteran unemployment rates hovering around 9%, and military spouse unemployment rates at 26%, these two eMentor initiatives offer robust mentoring opportunities to assist the hundreds of thousands of veterans and spouses seeking jobs today. Participating mentors provide guidance and support in career transition, career advancement, work/life balance, and other veteran or military family challenges.
The Veteran and Spouse eMentor Programs have produced powerful outcomes for participating mentors and protégés. In a survey conducted in the Fall of 2014, the Veteran eMentor Program participants report the following impacts: 92% of surveyed mentors said mentoring improved their leadership, mentoring and coaching skills; 65% of surveyed protégés reported that the eMentor Program helped them advance toward their professional goals; 56% reported more self-confidence as a result of their participation in eMentor; 37% reported being hired into new jobs since starting to participate in Veteran eMentor; 90% credit their participation in Veteran eMentor with their being hired; 71% received help with other issues related to the transition to civilian life.
In the Military Spouse program 28% of surveyed protégés reported having been hired into a new job since they started the program; 73% of protégés hired into new jobs credit their participation in the program with helping them get hired; 90% say they have more self-confidence; 87% report successfully meeting challenges in their professional life; 77% received help with preparing for and conducting their job search; 50% state they have more balance between work and personal time; 70% reported having higher morale as a military spouse. Of those surveyed, 84% of surveyed mentors reported that their experience in eMentor increased their understanding of the issues facing military spouses.
The following testimonial quotes reflect common sentiments expressed by program protégés and mentors captured in the Veteran and Military Spouse eMentor Program November 2014 survey:
“This has been an opportunity to gain a helpful friend and confidant. My mentor has provided me with an opportunity to grow my professional network quicker than I would have been able to without her assistance.”
“I am extremely grateful for my mentor and our relationship. We discuss professional development; have worked on resume writing, and work to improve job application skills. I feel extremely thankful for my mentor and this program!”
Future Initiative: STEMkids eMentor
STEM careers are extremely important to our national economy and our nation’s defense. According to Susan Feland, AcademyWomen’s President, “AcademyWomen is committed to supporting the development of the next generation of leaders in STEM through program initiatives like STEMkids. AcademyWomen is extremely well placed to leverage the high concentration of our members and partners who work in STEM careers to provide mentorship to youth participating in the STEMkids program.”
The STEMkids eMentor Program pairs middle and high school students with military veterans or civilian professionals who are working in STEM careers. The purpose of these friendly, informal one-to-one online mentoring relationships is to extend girls’ and boys’ excitement in STEM careers beyond their attendance at STEM events. The student’s mentor acts as a “big sister” or “big brother” to assist with homework and explore careers in STEM; the level of activity and engagement is up to the protégé and her/his schedule. The web-based mentoring format allows protégés “anytime” access to positive role models and a community focused on helping youth to set and attain STEM goals in order to prepare and envision themselves as future scientists, engineers and other STEM professionals. AcademyWomen hopes to pilot STEMkids in 2015 as an NSF grant project in partnership with the US Navy League.