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NIH-HHS Mentoring Program

The NIH version of the HHS Mentoring Program was launched in January 2009 as a tool for federal employees to develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Although we recruit all year long, this program cycles semiannually at NIH with matched pairs beginning orientation and program events in either a spring (April) or fall (October) cohort. After the cutoff date (April 15 for spring and October 15 for fall), program activities begin and are available for participants. If you make a mentor-mentee match after the cutoff date, we will place you in a cohort closest to your matched date and you will have the opportunity to participate in all program activities.

If you do not make a match by one of the cutoff dates and you are registered in the NIH-HHS Mentoring system as a mentor or mentee, we will be inviting you to revisit the program and find a match in the next cohort.

Key Program Features

  • Mentoring opportunities to accommodate staff at all levels
  • Online search-and-match system to connect individuals
  • Mentor-mentee orientation
  • One-year relationship
  • HHS and NIH program events, activities, and resources to facilitate development and growth
  • Individuals can be both mentors and mentees

Select from the links below to learn more about the program.


Mentoring Program Schedule
2013 Mentoring Program schedulePDF icon is an NIH supplement to the HHS-wide training schedule, as the HHS program is significantly customized by Operating Division. Please check back at both places regularly for more information and dates throughout the year!

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Registration and Mentor-Matching
All participants must discuss with their supervisors before registering. When an employee registers to be a mentee, his/her supervisor automatically receives a notification email from the system. Mentees can search for mentors by competency-framed strengths, geographical location/OPDIV and professional goals/career path, and initiate contact with up to 3 potential mentors at a time to discuss the potential of matching. Upon receiving an email to discuss the possibility of a mentoring relationship, a prospective mentor can choose to communicate with or decline the mentee. For tips on how to select a mentor, review the Selecting a Mentor Guide. When a match is deemed possible after verbal discussion and agreement, the mentee records the relationship confirmed with the mentor via the online system. Review these Six Easy Steps for information on how to create an account in the Mentor Matching System. More information on this process can also be found within the central HHS Mentoring Program site.

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Competencies and Mentoring
The NIH-HHS Mentoring Program anchors on development of HHS Leadership and Management, and HHS Core Competencies. Meanwhile, NIH has launched its own Leadership and Management, and Core Competencies. Here is how they translate and correspond, in order to take advantage of the program and develop an IDP (Individual Development Plan) that translates into NIH competencies at the same time.
Competencies in Translation; NIH-HHS Mentoring ProgramPDF icon. For more information about NIH Competencies, NIH IDPs and your specific IC Competencies contact, visit the Competencies section.

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Preparatory Exercises
Review these reflective questions as preparatory exercisesPDF icon for participating in a mentoring relationship.

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Activities for Mentor/Mentee Pairs
Review Things to Do Together in Your Mentoring RelationshipPDF icon before meeting with your mentor/mentee. We recommend that mentees drive these plans for discussion topics in your monthly chats.

To prepare for recurring partnership meetings, mentees can think through goal status using these Meeting Preparation Questions. Pre-meeting planning can help drive the partnership and keep goal development on track.

Use the NIH-HHS Monthly Mentoring Journal to keep a monthly record of the activities that you and your mentor/mentee do together, the experiences you’ve shared, and the goals that you are working on.

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Participating in Training Using the Learning Management System (LMS)
Participation in some of the NIH and HHS events and online training requires registration and use of the LMS, also known as the HHS Learning Portal. The LMS is accessed through a website where you can take an online course, register for classroom training, check your training history, and much more! This is a new learning management system that first went live in June 2007. If you are unfamiliar with the system, please review the HHS Learning Portal / LMS information section, it includes FAQs and who to contact if you have problems.

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Mentoring Relationship Boundaries
It is important to discuss and agree on the appropriate boundaries of the mentoring relationship between you and your partner early on. When boundaries are too loose, they may be misinterpreted, and when they are too rigid, they can also incapacitate the relationship. Use this guidelines document, Setting Boundaries in Mentoring Relationships,PDF icon to decide upon and confirm these boundaries once you have found a match.

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Comparison with Other NIH Mentoring Programs
As a tool in employee development, the NIH-HHS Mentoring Program does not supplant the scientific mentoring and customized IC mentoring programs that are available to employees in several NIH Institutes and Centers. Instead, it fills a need where it exists and enables NIH-wide or even HHS-wide relationships.

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Closing Out the Mentoring Relationship (at the One-Year Mark)
As each cohort comes to a close at its one-year mark, there are a few activities to complete. Please review the Closing out the Mentoring RelationshipPDF icon document in preparation for your relationship transition.

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For more information:

  • View the top 10 program frequently asked questions. For additional information and to enroll as a mentor or mentee, go to the central HHS Mentoring Program site.
  • For program FAQs, information and to enroll as a mentor or mentee, please go to the central HHS Mentoring Program site.
  • For technical support with online registration, write HHS site support directly. Before you write HHS, you might try using one of your alternative SMTP addresses to set up an account if your email address is having trouble being recognized.
  • Additional inquiries not addressed via online content or information sessions can be sent to your NIH Program Coordinator at the NIH-HHS Mentoring Program mailbox or in the global address book as “NIH-HHS Mentoring Program.”
  • Mentor-Mentee Information Session – February 19, 2010
    Our information session presentationPDF icon for NIH employees is available. This covers general program features, how to set up an account in 5 minutes, and everything you want to know about how the search and matching process works, as well as general audience questions and answers about the program. It is captioned.
  • NIH Mentoring Coalition – An NIH-wide Mentoring Coalition has been established to foster and support a mentoring culture at NIH. Find a list of participants from your IC. PDF icon
  • Monthly Newsletter Archive – Each month program participants receive a newsletter featuring reminders, upcoming events, mentor or mentee tributes, and resources and information. Use the links below to access past newsletters.

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This page was last reviewed on March 18, 2014