Mentoring and meetings with senior leaders
Mentoring is a key component to the development of strong leaders in the workforce. The Junior Force can gain valuable insight into the roles and responsibilities of our senior members through both formal seminars and video teleconferences (VTCs) with leaders at all levels. We have been blessed with strong support from our leadership and have opportunities to network locally and via VTC with some of the top ranking officials within RI, AFRL, and AFMC. Some of our past speakers have been directors of other AFRL directorates and the director of staff at AFRL Headquarters. This unfiltered access to experienced leaders gives the Junior Force a unique and informative perspective on the workings of our organization.
On top of our group meetings with senior leaders, the JFC also offers a mentoring program at the local level. This program serves to provide not only traditional junior-to-senior mentoring partnerships, but also cross-division, civilian-military, and senior-to-junior mentoring pairings. By providing a wide variety of options for these relationships, we allow our workforce to fill in any gaps in their local networks and to learn about processes and procedures in a less intimidating and more personal setting.
The Air Force has adopted the term “bluing trip” to define a trip with the sole purpose learning about the Air Force as a whole and how a specific organization fits into the bigger picture. For research labs like the Information Directorate, this provides a key opportunity to learn about the operational aspects of our service and to understand what needs the warfighter may have that might be met by our local scientists and engineers. For employees of a geographically separated unit such as RI, this allows for insight into the workings of an Air Force base and the multitude of organizations housed in one location.
Each year, the JFC in Rome organizes a bluing trip focusing on one specific theme. While the trips are organized with this theme in mind, additional opportunities such as networking and openings for collaboration are always presented on these trips. In 2015, we were fortunate enough to have funds for two such trips.
Our most recent trip in August centered on mentoring for Junior Force employees. This trip to Wright-Patterson AFB brought 17 Junior Force employees and our two senior advisors to the annual JFC Symposium, hosted by the AFMC HQ JFC. This symposium featured a range of well-known speakers, ranging from the AFMC Commander, Gen Ellen Pawlikowski, speaking about how to approach new assignments, to Rep Niraj Antani, from the Ohio state House of Representatives, who motivated young professionals to make a difference. In addition to attending the symposium, attendees on this trip also toured and learned about research and ongoing collaborations with AFRL/RH, 711th HPW, and NASIC.
The first trip of 2015 centered on a different theme: engagement with the warfighter. This trip to Langley AFB centered on a visit to Air Combat Command to learn about our collaborations and connections. In addition to learning about the structure and mission of ACC, we also met with senior leaders from the Ryan Center, the Targeting Center, 480th ISR Wing, and NASA-Langley. This visit allowed Junior Force employees to see how our research and collaborations at AFRL/RI are providing tools for the warfighter in the field.