Za Mentors' Companion

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Are you an experienced lieutenant or lieutenant commander aboard the USS Za with a mentee, and you'd like to know more about what to do to help him/her out?

Are you an experienced lieutenant or lieutenant commander aboard the USS Za who would like to get involved with mentoring?

Are you a new ensign or transfer who wants to know more about what you can expect from your mentor aboard the USS Za?

If you answered "yes" to any of these, then you've come to the right place!

Note: I (Tony) originally created this page for the USS Invicta, and I've adapted it here. Many thanks to the Invicta staff, especially Rich, for redrafting that original page.

What is a mentor?

A mentor is an experienced simmer who has been a member of the community for long enough and has proven his or her writing chops, to the point that s/he is a member of the Za staff group. The CO and XO trust each member of that group to be the designated point of contact for any new ensigns assigned to him or her. As a mentor, the experienced simmer will be expected to keep in regular contact with his/her mentees, sending feedback, checking in, and making him- or herself available to answer whatever questions the mentee may have.

What is a mentee?

Without exception, a mentee -- a simmer who is assigned a mentor -- is new to the Za. Most of the time, mentees will be new ensigns who are arriving from their training cruise in the SB118 Academy. However, new transfers who are lieutenant JGs or full lieutenants may also receive a mentor for their first few weeks aboard Za, especially if that person is returning from an LOA.

Who can be a mentor?

As long as your character possesses the rank of lieutenant or above, you may ask to become a mentor. In most cases, however, the CO and FO will approach experienced simmers directly about the possibility of becoming a mentor. Don't let that put you off, though -- if you haven't been approached, you should always feel free to contact the CO and/or FO about becoming a mentor. Be aware, though, that the desire to become a mentor does not mean that you will be automatically accepted. Mentors are expected to model exemplary simming habits, demonstrate strong writing, and meet full-time simming standards without exception.

What should a mentor do?

Let's break this down, step-by-step:

Initial Placement

When a new simmer is placed on Za, a call from the FO will go out on the staff group for a volunteer to mentor the new simmer. Occasionally there will be exceptional circumstances that will necessitate the assigning of a mentor directly, but generally the volunteer call will establish who's interested. From there, the FO and CO will consider several factors regarding the volunteers (who's mentored most recently, the departments of the volunteers and the new simmers, and so forth) and decide who will be the new mentor. The FO will then announce this to the staff group, and the mentor should contact the new simmer ASAP.

Because that initial contact should be as personal as possible, there's no template available. You should, however, cover a few basics:

  • explain what a mentor is (perhaps by linking to this page)
  • make sure that your mentee knows how to contact you (if you prefer more than your standard email address)
  • be very clear that you are available to help out and answer any questions the mentee may have.

The First Mission

During your mentee's first mission, you should check in at least every week to ten days. These don't need to be long messages, but be sure to let your mentee know that you're around and can field any questions s/he might have. It can often help to include some praise! Point out something you enjoyed from one of your mentee's sims in the last week, and then reaffirm that you're available to answer any questions. Of course, if your mentee reaches out to you in any given week, you may consider this condition satisfied.

Both mentors and mentees should be aware that all of the mentor's emails should be cc'd to the staff group. This is done to provide training for other mentors: It's easiest to know how to approach and interact with mentees when you've seen it done several times.

The Next Mission(s)/The First Promotion

Once a new simmer has mastered the simming basics, his or her mentor may begin to take a more relaxed role. But there isn't one clear time when this happens! Some simmers may have a great handle on the basics as a new ensign, while others may need a mentor's help for many months aboard. However, after the first mission, mentors should check in with their mentees about twice a month. They should make it clear, however, that they are still always available to their mentees.

Finishing the Mentor/Mentee Relationship

Ideally, mentor and mentee will part ways sometime between the mentee's promotion to lieutenant JG and promotion to lieutenant. Again, this is slightly vague, but it is a little different for everyone, and while some mentors may be able to congratulate their mentees and end their relationship at that first promotion, other mentees may need a little more time.

Regardless, it can be very gratifying to know that one's earned his/her mentor's respect and confidence, so every effort should be made by the mentor to congratulate the mentee and explain that their official relationship has come to an end. That's not at all to say that mentor and mentee can no longer interact, of course, but rather that the mentee has mastered the tools and techniques that the mentor has passed along and is fully ready to sim without a safety net.

Resources for Mentors

Please note that some of these resources may be restricted to ship staff members only. Please contact the CO or FO if you don't have access and think you should!