2022 YPT Mentoring Program Spotlight: Susan Steffenhagen Griffith

Susan Steffenhagen Griffith

Project Manager  |  Milepost Consulting SPC

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

I am a Project Manager for Milepost Consulting SPC, where I work on projects related to program development, federal grant application and management, and stakeholder outreach and education in the transportation and energy sectors, which are becoming increasingly intertwined!

My mentor is the Director – Eastern Service Center at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

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

I have been both a mentor and mentee in the Tennessee Chapter of the American Planning Association (TAPA) and Georgia Tech’s Mentor Jackets Program. I am the Program Coordinator for TAPA’s Mentor Match Program (mentioned above!). I also mentored interns when I was the Senior Air Quality Planner at the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). Lastly, I am a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee.

What prompted you to get involved with a mentorship program?

When you’re working every day, it’s easy to lose perspective on things or get stuck in a rut – I’m early enough in my career that I don’t want to settle into either of those states. By signing up for mentorship programs, I have a built-in, trusted person that I can turn to in order to learn from an outside point of view or help me zoom out to see the bigger picture when I get lost in the weeds.

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)

We have met virtually on a monthly basis and our relationship has looked pretty informal. In the past year, I have changed jobs and been promoted twice, so this flexibility has allowed me to share what’s happening and ask for advice during this season of change.

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

I’d cite many of the reasons I listed in question #3. In addition, it can help you develop friendships that span beyond the mentorship itself.

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

Most recently I was promoted to a Project Manager, and we talked about resources available to hone project management skills. This was especially helpful to be reassured that many Project Managers aren’t necessarily formally trained in it, so that means that you can learn and apply your learnings as you go along.

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

In my current job, many of my clients are pursuing federal funding grants/opportunities. Previously, I oversaw a federal grant program at TDOT. Given my career’s intersection with federal programming and funding, it has been really helpful to get to know someone working at the federal level – even if it’s different agencies, we’re able to talk about shared perspectives that impact both of us.

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