The Emmett J. Vaughan Institute of Risk Management and Insurance

RMI Industry Mentors Program

Vaughan Institute Associate Director
Check this site in August for the 2016-17 application form and calendar.

The Vaughan Institute and Gamma Iota Sigma conduct an industry mentoring program with the guidance and support of the Greater Quad Cities Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS). Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) students may apply if they have at least two semesters remaining in college. Mentors are recruited by a mentoring steering committe. Interested professionals should contact the Associate Director for information on becoming a mentor. The number and type of students requesting a mentor determines the number of mentors needed, and mentors may not always be called upon to participate.

Student mentees are chosen based on their academic performance, leadership and communication skills, interest in the risk management and insurance professions, and potential. Mentors are recruited from the local RIMS chapter and from the many alumni and professional partners connected with the Vaughan Institute. We value face-to-face activities. Because students don't always have transportation, we choose mentors who live nearby or travel to the university frequently.

Students are matched with mentors in the fall semester and continue their mentoring relationship throughout the spring semester. The University of Iowa Center for Teaching provides information about good mentoring practices to the mentors and also guidance to students about how to interact with their mentors. Armed with knowledge about the institute's RMI courses and services the Tippie College of Business and Vaughan Institute provide to students, mentors are well-equipped to carry out their important task.

We anticipate that mentors and students will spend approximately 2-3 hours a month meeting in pairs (three meetings per year are suggested), attend group events (normally 3 are scheduled) and participate in other activities and online forums.

  • Facilitates the exploration of needs, motivations, desires, skills, and thought processes to assist the individual in making real, lasting change.
  • Use squestioning techniques to facilitate client’s own thought processes in order to identify solutions and actions rather than takes a wholly directive approach.
  • Supports the client in setting appropriate goals and methods of assessing progress in relation to these goals.
  • Observes, listens, and asks questions to understand the client’s situation.
  • Creatively applies tools and techniques that may include one-to-one training, facilitating, counseling, and networking.
  • Encourages a commitment to action and the development of lasting personal growth and change.
  • Maintains unconditional positive regard for the client, which means that the coach is at all times supportive and nonjudgmental of the client, their views, lifestyle, and aspirations.
  • Ensures that clients develop personal competencies and do not develop unhealthy dependencies on the coaching or mentoring relationship.
  • Evaluates the outcomes of the process, using objective measures wherever possible to ensure the relationship is successful and the client is achieving his or her personal goals.
  • Encourages clients to continually improve competencies and to develop new developmental alliances where necessary to achieve their goals.
  • Works within their area of personal competence.
  • Possesses qualifications and experience in the areas that skills-transfer coaching is offered.
  • Manages the relationship to ensure the client receives the appropriate level of service and that programs are neither too short, nor too long.
1Compiled by Robert Starks, UI graduate assistant. Taken from the online definition section of The Coaching and Mentoring Network.
    Preparing, negotiating, enabling, and coming to closure are part of every mentoring relationship, formal and informal. Awareness of the phases is a key factor in successful mentoring relationships. When they are taken for granted or skipped over, they can have a negative impact on the relationship. Simply being aware of them provides significant signposts.

    Movement through the four phases follows a fluid yet predictable cycle, and usually has some overlap between phases. Thus, during the enabling phase, when mentoring partners are most likely to face potential obstacles (perhaps a geographical move), they may need to renegotiate aspects of their mentoring partnership agreement in order to move forward and maintain the relationship.


    Each mentoring relationship is unique. So each time a new mentoring relationship begins, both mentor and mentee must prepare individually and in partnership.

    Tilling the soil before planting can involve a number of processes (Piercy, 1982): fertilizing, aerating, cultivating, plowing, and so on. Similarly in the preparing phase of a mentoring relationship, a variety of processes take place. Mentors explore personal motivation and their readiness to be a mentor. They assess their mentoring skills to identify areas for their own learning and development. Clarity about both expectation and role is essential for establishing a productive mentoring relationship.

    Preparing is also a discovery process. The mentor evaluates the viability of the prospective mentor-mentee relationship. A prospecting conversation with the mentee assists in making that determination. This initial conversation then sets the tone for the relationship.


    Successfully completing the negotiating phase is like planting the seeds that lead to the fruition of the mentoring relationship. Planting seeds in well-cultivated soil produces growth. Negotiating is the business phase of the relationship-the time when mentoring partners come to agreement on learning goals and define the content and process of the relationship.

    Negotiating is not as simple as drawing up an agreement. A key part is the conversation that leads up to it, when the ground rules for moving the relationship forward are developed. The negotiating phase has more to do with creating a shared understanding about assumptions, expectations, goals, and needs than actually putting a formal agreement in writing. It involves talking about some of the soft issues in a relationship-topics like confidentiality, boundaries, and limits, which often are left out of mentoring conversations because the partners find these issues difficult to talk about. Although some individuals are concerned that such a discussion undermines trust, it actually lays a solid foundation for building trust.

    Another way of describing the negotiating phase is "the detail phase." This is when the details of when and how to meet, responsibilities, criteria for success, accountability, and bringing the relationship to closure are mutually articulated.


    The enabling phase takes longer to complete than the other three phases since this phase is the implementation phase of the learning relationship, when most of the contact between mentoring partners takes place. It is complex. Although it offers the greatest opportunity for nurturing learning and development, the mentoring partners are also most vulnerable to myriad obstacles that can contribute to a derailment of the relationship.

    Even when goals are clearly articulated, the process well defined, and the milestones identified, every relationship must find its own path. The enabling phase is a process of path building: maintaining a sufficient level of trust to develop the quality of the mentoring relationship and promote learning. Effective communication is key.

    The mentor's role during this phase is to nurture the mentee's growth by establishing and maintaining an open and affirming learning climate and providing thoughtful, timely, candid, and constructive feedback. Both the mentor and mentee monitor the learning progress and the learning process to ensure that the mentee's learning goals are being met.

Coming to Closure

    Coming to closure is an evolutionary process that has a beginning (establishing closure protocols when setting up a mentoring agreement), a middle (anticipating and addressing obstacles along the way), and an end (ensuring that there has been positive learning, no matter what the circumstances). All three components are necessary for satisfactory closure.

    A relationship may start out splendidly, with the mentoring partners respecting each other, sharing mutual interests, and developing good rapport. Suddenly the spark goes out. When this happens, mentors often find that working their way back through the phases enables them to evaluate and refashion a stalled relationship into a productive and mutually satisfying experience. Being aware of signals that indicate it is time for closure helps to ensure a timely and positive closure.

    Closure involves evaluating, acknowledging, and celebrating achievement of learning outcomes. Mentors, as well as mentees, can benefit from closure. When closure is seen as an opportunity to evaluate personal learning and apply that learning to other relationships and situations, mentors leverage their own learning and growth and reap the full harvest of the relationship.

1 Compiled by Robert Starks, UI Graduate Assistant, from Lois J. Zachary. The Mentor’s Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships.
  1. Prior to your first meeting with your mentor, write down at least three things you would like to achieve through mentoring. Rank the three items in order of importance to you. Also write down three things that concern you most about meeting with your mentor. Rank these three things in order of importance.
  2. If not included in either of the lists created above, write down at least three attitudes or perspectives you will be able to provide during the mentoring sessions. If possible, write down three things about yourself that might get in the way of you being able to make the most of the mentoring opportunity.
  3. If not included in your lists, write down at least three things you would like your mentor to provide.
  4. Prepare a brief autobiography based on the above lists that you can share with your mentor when you first meet. Be sure to also include your own vision, mission, or life goals.
  5. It is likely that you selected your mentor or were matched with your mentor because of the mentor’s resources. This typically means that your mentor has both considerable gifts and a tight time schedule. Dealing with time is a key aspect of the success of mentoring. Make sure you are clear about your needs.
  6. Many mentoring partnerships rely on formal, written agreements. The ingredients of such a contract are typically negotiated, but usually include answers to the “who is going to do what and when” logistical questions. In many cases such agreements spell out the purpose of the mentoring and may even include a list of career goals and work activities expected to achieve those goals. Learn about your mentor’s perspective about such agreements and discuss what ought to be included, if such an agreement is valued.
  7. Be prepared to do some homework in order to demonstrate initiative, leadership, and self-reliance. Explore alternative options for asking questions or gaining information other than just relying on your mentor. For example, if there is a policy manual, make sure you have read through it before asking your mentor about it. On the other hand, keep your mentor in the picture by letting the mentor know why you are asking a particular question after having explored other options.
  8. The focus of most successful mentoring is mutual learning. Feel free to explore what you have to offer the mentor. A sense of humor and a sense of enjoyment of your time together are essential as well. If your needs are not being met, discuss this with your mentor. Terminating a mentoring relationship or switching to a different mentor are not signs of failure. Recognizing your changing needs and finding a respectful way to meet your learning goals are one of the keys to successful executive mentoring.
1 Compiled by Robert Starks, UI graduate assistant. Taken from Michael G. Zey. The Mentor Connection. New York: Dow Jones-Irwin, 1984. Pg. 7.
    Participants are encouraged to use the blog link below to suggest additional activities. Face-to-face meetings are beneficial, but not necessary for all activities. If you’re finding it difficult to make time, try to schedule an activity between someone else in your organization or network and your student. We know from experience that participants report a better experience when activities are well thought out and planned in advance, rather than spur-of-the-moment.

    Note: If your student needs access to a speaker phone, a fax, a scanner, or the Internet for a webinar or other Internet activity, the Vaughan Institute has a student resource center that is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days.


  • Set learning objectives, if your student would like a hands-on view of the industry. The objectives could include a birds-eye view of a risk management department, the structure of an insurance company or brokerage, various functions and roles within a company and the relationship to risk management, the role of an actuary in the insurance industry, etc.
  • Conduct mock interviews (at least 2 are required) with the mentor’s human resources staff or with one of your partner businesses.
  • Edit the student’s resume (resources offered by the Pomerantz Center may be helpful).
  • Schedule informational interviews or job shadows with department heads, risk managers, or entrepreneurs in the RMI field.
  • Help your student determine their career strengths by encouraging them to take a career assessment at the Pomerantz Career center and then discussing the results with them.
  • Take your student to a business, service club, or professional organization meeting, luncheon, or dinner. Discuss in advance how to maximize the event for networking and business etiquette as it relates to the function. RIMS members are strongly encouraged to take the student to a RIMS chapter meeting.
  • Discuss recognizing and navigating the culture of an organization, when entering as a new employee.
  • Critique your student’s upcoming class or team presentation.
  • Help your student develop better decision-making and analytical thinking skills by presenting a current ethics or business problem (case study) and discussing outcomes and resolutions.
  • Conduct a corporate tour or tour of a manufacturing plant and discuss the risk issues. The tour could cover a full-day tour of a claims department, loss control, underwriting, actuarial, legal, accounting, marketing, etc.
  • Invite students to participate in webinars.
  • Provide licensure or designation exam information and, if appropriate, assist your student with the process.
  • Invite your mentee to attend both internal and external business meetings and training seminars.
  • Allow your student to attend company social events and all staff announcements.
  • Arrange for your student to become involved in a corporate civic or volunteer program and discuss the importance of such activities to one’s career and life.
  • Pair your student with a new, young employee who can discuss school-to-work transition and community resources for young professionals.
  • Have human resources present information on the most common mistakes made by young employees or discuss the qualities they value in a young employee and why some employees advance within an organization and others do not.
  • Show your student the process involved in a particular job function and the steps taken from beginning to end, such as an insurance renewal or a filing on a claim.
  • Connect your student to the risk management and insurance network, young professionals network, and other professional groups in the geographic area where they may be looking for employment or an internship.


  • Check out the Pomerantz Center’s Perfect Interview system and have your mentor critique your recorded interview.
  • Invite your mentor (with instructor approval) to a presentation you are making in class.
  • Invite your mentor (or a panel recruited by your mentor) to speak at a student organization on a topic of interest to the group.
  • Invite your mentor to another University activity, such as a sports or arts event.
  • Have your mentor help edit your class project.
  • Engage in “reverse mentoring” by helping your mentor with new technologies like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogging, etc.
  • Take the initiative and let your mentor know the type of activity that would interest you.
  • Time issues
  • A lack of clarity and agreement on goals, purposes, and objectives
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Lack of ideas or interest in the activities
  • A lack of organizational support

When time becomes an issue

Lack of time is the most frequently articulated reason attributed to failure in a mentoring relationship.1 It is pervasive throughout many mentoring relationships and should be given special attention at the beginning.


  • Both parties should take responsibility for suggesting activities and provide the other with open times a few weeks to a month in advance. It works best when the next meeting is set at the end of each session.
  • Schedule time in advance. Both parties should be respectful of the other one’s time. Scheduling at the last minute or waiting for the approach of a Mentoring Program deadline is a recipe for disaster.
  • Mentors should hold a time and scheduling conversation with the mentees, addressing time constraints that might be problematic for both.1
  • Avoid the pitfalls of mentoring on the run and encourage your student to prepare for meetings in advance to maximize your time together.1 When a mentor doesn’t schedule in advance, students feel the mentor lacks genuine interest. Also, mentors view students who don’t accept their invitations as lacking commitment.
  • Contact the Vaughan Institute staff for help setting up your first session or for help resolving scheduling issues.

Lack of clarity and agreement on goals

Both parties should benefit by the relationship. A frank conversation about what each expects to gain from the relationship may help identify shared goals and determine mentoring activities. The RMI Mentoring Program is a professional development and exploration program, not an internship or a way to provide the student with employment after graduation. The goal is to provide students with a mentor who they can confide in and rely on for much of their professional life.

Interpersonal Problems

Interpersonal problems can prevent either party from having a good mentoring relationship. Many business organizations have conflict strategies that they employ. This may be a perfect opportunity to show your student how interpersonal conflicts are resolved in a business setting. If the problem can’t be resolved or a student needs assistance resolving a conflict, please contact the Vaughan Institute staff for assistance. Please remember to keep the relationship confidential in nature unless you need to call upon someone to help resolve an issue.

Lack of ideas or interest in the activities

Having difficulty deciding what to do with your student or mentor? We suggest you get together in person or by phone and review the suggested activities section of this web site. Choose a few activities and set dates and timelines for accomplishing them. Please use the blog to post new ideas, discuss topics and activities of interest, and invite others to your activities when appropriate.

A lack of organizational support

We sincerely hope this won’t become a problem. If you can’t find what you need on this web site and can’t get assistance through the blog, don’t hesitate to call. If you’re a mentor, you may want to begin with the RIMS or Vaughan Institute contact. Students should contact the Vaughan Institute.

1Lois J. Zachary. The Mentor’s Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships.
  • To share your knowledge, experience, and wisdom.
  • To provide realistic views, insights, and information on the profession. Activities and conversations that illustrate current issues, management topics, ethical concerns, the role of governing boards, types of businesses and positions, and quality of life issues are encouraged. A discussion board will help mentors share ideas and invite others to their activities.
  • To help students understand networking and help them build a network. You may want to discuss how to network with community organizations to improve quality of life when moving to a new community or how to use a network to advance a career.
  • To challenge your student to think about new ideas, take risks, meet challenges, and optimize opportunities.
  • To provide personal advice and guidance on career searches and to influence ongoing career development. Conversations between students and mentors are confidential unless there is a situation that needs resolution by program staff. You may be asked for a reference for your student; however, the mentoring program isn’t a job placement program and shouldn’t be considered as a way to recruit for your organization.
  • To serve as a role model and exemplify the highest personal and professional standards. Excessive use of alcohol while students are present or other behaviors that may make students feel uncomfortable could result in a mentor being removed from the program.

Pomerantz Career Center

Through the Pomerantz Career Center, student get help writing their resumes, with job searches, job search and interviewing skills, and with writing cover letters. RMI employers are encouraged to post jobs and internships with the Career Center.

Judith Frank Business Communications Center

In the world of business, students need more than the basic skills to be successful. They need to be able to communicate well—both on paper and in person. Recruiters say that communications skills are critical in today’s workplace. Because of this, the Tippie College has developed the Judith R. Frank Business Communications Center, which is devoted to ensuring that Tippie students graduate with the communication skills necessary to have an impact in their workplace.

Student Mentoring Resources at The University of Iowa

The University recognizes the importance of mentoring and has compiled a list of resources available on campus as well as a list of general mentoring sites for reference.

Division of Student Services

The Office of the Vice President for Student Services oversees student recreational, disability, health, housing, and counseling services.