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  1. Blog
  2. Partners in Diversity
  3. March 26, 2024

This Company Offers 3 Mentorship Programs. Women Say the Initiatives Are Working!

“It was comforting to know that I had someone I could go to when I encountered a challenge, who would give me honest, straightforward advice.”

PRT employees
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Regional Transit

This article is part of InHerSight's Partners in Diversity series. Discover companies partnering with InHerSight to better support women in the workplace.

Ninety-seven percent of people with a mentor report the experience to be a positive and impactful one, yet few—only 37 percent—have a mentor. It’s time to change that.

Not only do companies that offer mentorship programs signal a vested interest in the growth and success of their employees (a huge green flag), but mentorships are also invaluable resources for personal and professional development. For women in particular, who are often navigating male-dominated environments or career changes, they can open doors, provide crucial insight into understanding workplace dynamics, and build confidence needed to pursue roles in less-charted fields.

“Women should seek companies with mentorship programs because I believe mentorships create equitable opportunities for advancement,” says Samantha Taylor, senior ITS administrator at Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT), the organization behind Pittsburgh’s bus, light rail, incline, and paratransit services. 

Donna Billy, a project controls analyst at PRT, adds, “Mentorship gives you an opportunity to discuss things in a safe environment. You can be raw, be yourself, and use these moments to truly learn. I would recommend that if you are thinking about doing a mentorship, take the leap. It is worth the time and effort. You also develop a great ally; someone who’s truly in your corner.” 

Both Taylor and Billy have participated—and thrived—in PRT’s plentiful mentorship offerings. The transportation org has dedicated a significant amount of time and energy to creating three mentorship programs that help employees of all genders develop their skills, prepare for leadership, and have a trusted person that they can go to when they have questions or need help:

  • Pathways Mentoring Program: Available for all non-represented employees and first level supervisors. Typically this program is designed for employees new to the public transportation industry or less tenured employees looking for a mentoring relationship to help them develop certain skills or advance their career.

  • Succession Planning Program: Available for all non-represented employees who are nominated by their supervisor to participate in the program because they have been identified as a future leader at PRT.

  • Operator Mentoring Program: This program is for new Operators. Once they complete their Orientation Training, they are paired with a Mentor Operator at their location for their first year.

The results of these initiatives have been overwhelmingly positive, although variable depending on each mentee’s aspirations. Whether the person has become a more engaged individual contributor or has gone on to be promoted into a leadership position, PRT reports mentees being more comfortable and satisfied with their employment with the organization—a win for employee and employer alike.

But don’t just take our word for it. To gauge the impact of such programming, we asked seven women at PRT (Taylor and Billy included) to share their experiences with in-house mentorships. Read on to discover the ways mentorships have shaped women’s careers at the organization, and why you, too, should look for an employer with mentorship opportunities. 

Pittsburgh Regional Transit

One of InHerSight’s Best Companies to Work For, Pittsburgh Regional Transit continues to shine the light on opportunities for women in the male-dominated transit industry. While their top metrics include The People You Work With and Wellness Initiatives, it’s their score for Learning Opportunities—their highest rated metric—that makes PRT remarkable. Here, you can learn on the job and grow your career alongside people who want you to thrive. Discover your next career steps at PRT now. 

Learn more ›

Cynthia McMonagle

Assistant to the Director

Mentorship completed: Pathways Mentoring Program, Succession Planning Program

“Women should seek companies with mentorship programs because collaboration and learning are essential in becoming an effective leader and social capital can help women overcome workplace challenges and obstacles. This program has allowed me to gain more knowledge and a better understanding of how other departments impact the organization and the operations department. It’s also impacted my career by opening other doors and giving me access to contacts I otherwise might not have had. It has been beneficial in creating a professional relationship with my mentor and ensuring that I have an ally and support throughout the organization.”

Sheron Wyszynski

Dispatcher First Level

Mentorship completed: Pathways Mentoring Program

“The mentorship program has given me a clearer understanding of the company and their needs. Women should seek companies with mentorships to see if their skill set is a match for the position they are applying for.”

Melissa Becker

Assistant Manager of Bus and Rail Operations

Mentorship completed: Succession Planning

“During my mentorship, my greatest takeaway was that my mentor made me reflect on where my career has been, what I have done to get where I am today, and where I would like to see it go. She encouraged me to explore my options and not to give up when the overall picture gets a little blurry. Watching her rapid progression in a male-dominated industry was a testimonial to the possibilities that lie ahead for me. In such an environment, it can be easy for women to feel outnumbered and, at times, defeated. The mentorship program can show the same picture from different angles and allow you to see yourself in the best light.”

Samantha Taylor

Senior ITS Administrator

Mentorship completed: Pathways Mentoring Program

“My time spent cultivating a relationship with my mentor has been beneficial to my career in so many ways. Over the past year, we have worked on my understanding of the entire agency, addressed different challenges and opportunities that I’ve faced or may face in the future, and discussed ways that I can build on my skills and continue to develop my professional presence here at PRT. I think the best example of the benefits to a mentorship program would be the ability to expose your skills and potential to folks outside of your typical work environment. For example, my mentor is the Chief of a different department so my exposure would have been practically nonexistent without this program, but because we matched, my mentor saw potential in me and, along with other colleagues on our senior team, nominated me to apply for The American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), which I was later selected for. The ELP program has created excellent opportunities for me to not only build my network and learn from my peers in the transit industry but has also been a fantastic development opportunity to expand my knowledge of things like different leadership styles, DEIBA [diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and accessibility] practices, emotional intelligence, and so much more.”

Terrie Riley         

Manager of Fare Systems

Mentorship completed: Pathways Mentoring Program

“Having a mentor has been a fantastic experience. My mentor would suggest leadership training classes and once completed, we would discuss what I had learned. A few months ago, I was working on a rather large presentation, and although I had the opportunity to practice the presentation with my peers, she offered to listen to it as someone who didn’t know much about the topic. She offered me critical insights that helped improve the presentation. In addition, she was very supportive and encouraging. Being a new employee, it was comforting to know that I had someone I could go to when I encountered a challenge, who would give me honest, straightforward advice. Over time, we developed what I feel is a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Donna Billy

Project Controls Analyst

Mentorship completed: Pathways Mentorship Program, Succession Planning Program

“Participating in the mentorship programs has allowed me to really focus on my strengths as well as my weaknesses and continue to grow as an individual and an employee. I started in the Pathways Mentoring Program and developed a strong relationship with my mentor. My goal is to move into management here at PRT. Through the discussions with my mentor and her recommendations on classes to take and ways to enhance my skills, I am well on my way. It prepared me to be ready for my second mentorship program, Succession Planning, for which my manager nominated me. I have another great mentor to help me with my journey. We are focusing on broadening my network, enhancing my communication skills, and tuning my overall approach to goals and projects. 

In both programs, I was able to focus on personal and professional growth. I discovered a new way to look at certain things that may have been holding me back previously. I learned to create realistic goals and create the documentation to back them up and complete them. I made process improvements in my current role to make things more efficient.”

Tricia Galasso

Supervisor of Customer Service Center

Mentorship completed: Succession Planning Program

“Being a woman employed by a company offering a mentorship program is truly amazing. My supervisor position can be overwhelming at times. Having a mentor to help navigate this position has been wonderful. I can reach out with my mentor regarding any situation. She is always open to questions and is eager to provide advice to me. I treat the knowledge that I received from my mentor as a wealth of information and try to absorb all that I can. It helps me achieve to be the best version of myself.”

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