Career Development Tips for Extension Mentors

Mentors wear a lot of “hats” when performing their duties; friend, role model, guide, and more. One of the most important forms of support a mentor can provide is advice on their mentee’s career advancement. New Extension agents will have questions on the structure of Extension, how to develop strong programs, the path to permanent status and promotion, and much more. As a mentor, you are your mentee’s go-to person when it comes to career development support. Here are some things to think about when providing career advancement advice to your mentee: 

1. Extension 101

This conversation will look different for each individual. Discuss with your mentee what they already know about the structure of Extension. Explain the relationship between county agents and county directors, regionally specialized agents, state specialists, and district directors. This might be a good time to connect your mentee with state specialists you have worked with in the past, or direct them towards specialists in their programmatic area. Explain the importance of working in priority work groups and collaborating with other agents on large projects.

2. Annual Reporting

The agent’s annual report, or “The Packet”, can seem ominous and daunting to a new agent. Provide your mentee with a copy of your Report of Accomplishments to get the ball rolling and to serve as an example. Explain the process, timeline, and expectations associated with annual reporting. Consider working with your mentee as an accountability partner when reporting season comes around and bounce ideas off one another. Remember to discuss the importance of a complete report and the potential positive career outcomes associated with effective reporting.

3. Path to Permanent Status

Your mentee may be eager to learn how they can secure their career within Extension for years to come. Explain the path to permanent status and the different expectations between Extension agents’ promotion levels. Highlight the importance of planning ahead for activities and tasks that will lead to high Extension scholarship outputs, such as planning evaluation, seeking awards, and submitting conference abstract proposals. 

As a mentor, you have to power to shape the next generation of Extension agents. Get your mentee on the right track by having conversations about career advancement early on 

Mentor Challenge: 

Reach out to your mentee and schedule a meeting to discuss advancing in their Extension career. Refer back to the blog for talking points and inspiration! 

The mission of the Program Development and Evaluation Center (PDEC) is to add value to UF/IFAS Extension through improved program development and evaluation processes and the enhancement of professional competencies based on the science of Extension. 


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Posted: July 24, 2023

Category: , Professional Development
Tags: Mentorship, PDEC

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