Research Projects

METRANS

by Reaghan Murphy, USC Price Master of Urban Planning Student

On Tuesday, September 24th, in the USC Doheny Memorial Library, students, staff, faculty, and practitioners enjoyed the first professional development workshop of the fall semester, a lunch and learn with Dr. Rebecca Weintraub of the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, who shared her tips for and perspective on the importance of mentoring. 

 

Dr. Weintraub is a veteran communicator with three decades of professional experience in communication, facilitation, change management, and organizational behavior. She currently serves as a Clinical Professor in the Annenberg School, as well as the director of both the Communication Management Master’s Degree Program and the Center for Corporate and Community Education. Dr. Weintraub’s career in communication — which, she clarified to audience laughter, has been grounded in human communication and not microwave communication — spans the non-profit, public, and private sectors.

After a moving narrative of her journey to and through the world of professional communication, Weintraub shared she has noticed a specific recurring aspect of successful companies, organizations, and schools throughout her work: the opportunity for growth through mentorship. She highlighted the characteristics of successful mentoring relationships, and the criticality of mentorship for enhancing personal and professional development.

 

Further, Weintraub encouraged audience members to remain open to informal and peer-to-peer mentoring opportunities in addition to traditional mentoring dynamics, as these less formal partnerships can be just as beneficial to mentors and mentees. She also delved into the responsibilities of mentees and mentors within mentoring relationship, helping audience members to consider both perspectives.

 

Weintraub then proceeded to share her “Laws for Good Mentoring Relationships”. These included age-old wisdom (such as the importance of action planning, accountability, and consistent communication) as well as some more novel tips (like the ways in which nonverbal cues, constructive criticism, and a feeling of pushing beyond one’s comfort zone may transform a mentoring relationship — positively or negatively).

 

As she began to conclude her talk, Weintraub reminded audience members that mentoring is not always explicit or formal, and suggested they may have even acted as mentors before without realizing it. “I might have an advising appointment with a student, and I leave the meeting thinking we’ve had a conversation, but the student leaves believing he or she has been mentored,” she shared. She encouraged the audience to lean into these opportunities, and to seek mentoring relationships with peers as well as professionals.

 

Perhaps the most inspiring portion of her talk, Dr. Weintraub’s final words encouraged her student attendees to strive for growth through mentorship. “Whether you are mentoring or being mentored, what you have always done will only get you to where you are now. If you start to feel uncomfortable — if you start to go beyond what you have always done — it means you are growing,” she said.

 

Leaning into Growth through Mentorship: METRANS Mentor Program

 

METRANS is especially thrilled to have hosted Dr. Weintraub and offered students a chance to learn from her wisdom on mentoring and communication, given the METRANS Mentor Program. The Mentor Program, operated annually, is an opportunity for students and recent graduates interested in transportation careers to gain insight and access into the transportation industry through the lens of mentorship.

 

Interested participants must indicate their interest by submitting an interest form and corresponding documents, and by meeting briefly with the program directors. Following this process, mentees are paired with transportation professionals based on their interests and career objectives. More information about this program can be accessed in the weekly METRANS newsletter.

 

Questions about the program and interest process may be directed to Mentor Program Student Director Reaghan Murphy at [email protected], or to METRANS Associate Director Victoria Deguzman at [email protected] 

 

About the Author: Reaghan Murphy

Reaghan Murphy is a first-year Master of Urban Planning student at USC Price specializing in transportation planning. She has work experience in both the non-profit and public sectors, focusing on community engagement, sustainable development, transportation policy, and accessibility. Her previous research projects feature varied aspects of transportation planning, including transportation demand management, mobility among underserved populations, and GIS-based analysis. She can be reached at [email protected]