2022 YPT Mentoring Program Spotlight: Lauren Hunt

Lauren Hunt

Planner |  Kittelson & Associates

Can you tell us a little about where each of you work and what you do?

I am a planner at Kittelson & Associates. I’m interested in developing healthy communities through the connection of transportation and public health. My passion is developing pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit strategies to increase the health of the communities which I serve while also considering traffic-related injury prevention approaches. This often leads to working on health impact assessments, safety projects, and active transportation pedestrian and bicycle planning.

Have you ever been in a mentoring relationship before? If so, what was your role?

I am fortunate to have a number of people who I often seek advice from! Many of them, I have gained from various jobs and school over the years. This program has been wonderful in connecting pairs that may not otherwise have the opportunity to overlap. Juong has been able to add a unique perspective to my questions. It is also nice to have an unbiased opinion to ask questions about career guidance to!

What prompted you to get involved with a mentorship program?

I was intrigued by the program as YPT has been such an integral part of my networking experience during my career thus far. I have been able to connect with peers from a variety of places. This opportunity allowed me to connect with someone who can bring a different value to my time with YPT. Having someone to bounce ideas off and receive honest feedback is invaluable.

For those that did a mentoring pairing: With YPT, we’ve done the pairing and given suggestions on best practices, but left it to participants to structure their mentorship. Can you walk us through how your partner did mentoring? (Who takes the lead; how often do you meet; do you structure your meetings or set goals – give us an inside look into what mentoring looks like for the two of you)

Joung and I are fortunate to both be located in the same city. We have been meeting quarterly in person, which provides a great experience and time to talk in a more natural setting. While having mentors virtually is fabulous, I would recommend trying to meet in person as much as you are able! Our conversations typically surround work and life, but from a less “formal” setting. We don’t have set questions we follow, but rather just go where the conversation leads! We both ask questions of each other to gain insight to how Juong can assist and offer perspective that is tailored to me and for me to learn from him. Not to mention, Juong is pretty cool – so it makes the experience a lot of fun!

Why do you think it’s important to participate in mentoring, especially in this field?

This field is VERY small. It is important to participate in mentoring, as you never know who your mentor may already know or if they have experienced similar challenges as you. Mentoring should be a career long process – some of your mentors now may change, but I hope that some of mine will remain around my entire career!

What topics did you find most beneficial to discuss with mentor(s), and why?

I would first encourage mentors/mentees to get to know one another! Some topics we have discussed in our initial meetings included: where you are from, hobbies, day-to-day activities, interests. This can really help set the stage for passions/challenges that you may both bond over. It also may bring work/life balances to the forefront.

It has been helpful to listen to Joung talk about his career and to dig into different decisions and thought processes. Questions such as: would you have made that decision again, who did you consult when thinking through a process, etc. can foster conversation that encourages critical thinking and problem solving scenarios from a first-hand case study.

What is something that you’ve learned from your experience in our mentoring program?

This experience has reminded me to be intentional about mentoring. The further you get into your career, the more work and life can shift your priorities (understandably so). This program has allowed me to be intentional about seeking advice and investing time and thought into my current challenges. Joung encourages me to think through these current challenges as well as learning skills to navigate the future challenges that will inevitably arise!

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