Mentoring Comes Full Circle
When Barron Dill (pictured above, second from right) was in college, he had the opportunity through his scholarship program to be mentored by professionals in the engineering field. It was an experience that deeply impacted him and led to his decision to serve as a mentor himself in college. He remains lifelong friends with the five students he mentored, and they are all now successful professionals.
Now that Dill works at the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) as Assistant Superintendent in the House Office Buildings, he still volunteers as a mentor. It's an experience that he feels continues to enrich his life. "Mentoring is a chance to do what someone did for me. It's a way to pay it forward," Dill said. "When students see someone who has a successful career, it can help focus them and give them something to aspire to."
He has joined several of his fellow AOC colleagues to mentor at the Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School (Phelps) in Washington, D.C., where the AOC creates and teaches short courses to students in architecture and various trades.
Dill's first experience was at a career day, where he had the opportunity to talk to individual students about what they are interested in studying, such as math, science and technology, and be interviewed by them about his career. He spoke to a group of students about how they can prepare themselves to be in the best position to get the career they want.
Students who attend Phelps may not have had previous exposure to professional engineering and architectural settings before. That's where the AOC's effort to mentor these students comes in. "Mentoring is essential for success, particularly if you're interested in a career that you know very little about and you don’t know anyone else who has already done it," said Dill.
He notes that the kids he worked with will have graduated from both Phelps and college in the next six years, meaning that in the not too distant future, they could be future interns or employees at the AOC. "It's a great chance to make an impression on the students and encourage them as they consider their career possibilities," Dill added.
Mentoring can open students' eyes to opportunities they never knew existed and help guide them on how to prepare for such opportunities. For Dill, his experience as a mentee and now as a mentor has come full circle. "It's all about preparing students for things they never knew were possible and making the connection between things they know but aren't sure how to accomplish," he said. "That's what my mentor gave me and what I hope to impart to students today."