Program offers professional mentoring to administrative assistants

July 2, 2015  

Joni Hipsher and Linda Foster

Joni Hipsher (left), secretary in the School of Languages and Cultures, and Linda Foster, assistant in the Human Resources’ Organizational Effectiveness unit, recently completed Purdue's Clerical and Administrative Assistants Mentoring Program. (Photo provided)
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At colleges and universities, mentoring is typically associated with professors and advisors guiding students, but at Purdue, academic support staff have the chance to participate in the Clerical and Administrative Assistants Mentoring Program. CAAMP will hold a mentoring program orientation for all interested academic support staff in July.

The five-month program, which pairs experienced administrative assistants, level V clerks and secretaries with less experienced clerical and administrative staff members, focuses on professional development, networking and strengthening professional skills.

"We provide an environment where support staff can receive training and encouragement to enhance their workplace performance," says Charlyce Patterson, human resources senior talent management specialist and CAAMP advisor. "Our support staff directly impact our leaders' ability to be effective. By providing opportunities for our support staff to improve and perform at their peak, we, in turn, enhance the effectiveness of our leaders."

After mentee applications are reviewed by the CAAMP leadership team, mentees choose an "in-scope" area they want to concentrate on for the duration of the program. The "in-scope" areas are advancement of skills, career advancement, development of professional network and solidification of relationships with supervisor or team.

Trained mentors are matched to mentees based on skills, professional interests and mentor expertise and strengths in regard to the areas a mentee wishes to focus on.

At least once each month, mentors and mentees meet, often over lunch, to discuss their in-scope area and other professional concerns. Common discussion topics include creating better working relationships with supervisors, adjusting thought processes and work habits from those of a secretary to those of an administrative assistant, proofreading and reviewing resumes and career goals.

Though most meetings are one-on-one, mentors are encouraged to invite mentees to specific relevant events or activities such as minutes taking or setting up a large meeting if it coincides with their stated concentration. Both mentees and mentors benefit from these monthly exchanges, and many mentees become mentors within the program.

"While the intended goal of CAAMP is to assist less experienced individuals, everyone can get something from the discussion," says Angie Teel, assistant to the dean of the College of Science, CAAMP leadership team member and acting mentor in CAAMP. "I have enjoyed interacting with people who have a heart for change and who desire to grow more effective and efficient within their positions. Their excitement instills a new energy in me."

The mentor program, which is now beginning its 10th term, offers two opportunities for clerical and administrative staff to participate each year -- from August to December and from January to May.

CAAMP will conduct a mentoring program orientation for all interested academic support staff on July 23. Registration for this event is available online.

For information about participating in the mentoring program, visit or email

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