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Mentor Interview: Jack Barry

Updated: Jan 18, 2022

Jack Barry, Upnotch Mentor, is a Project Manager of Veterans Industry Education 25 (VIE25) at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Passionate about helping others, Jack has been a mentor in the past and has a wealth of experience in Higher Education and working with and helping veterans.

What is your superpower & why?

My superpower is being an empowering collaborative person. I'm basically helping my team out to make sure that we're going towards the right goal. It's all about making sure that your teammates are taken care of and that you're looking out for them.

Who are your mentors, and what topics do like to discuss with them?

I've had a couple of mentors over the past few years. My current mentor is my supervisor, Mark Haskins. He helps me navigate higher education. Another mentor is Tommy Simpson, who has worked for the Department of Health in Washington State. He helped me out when I was getting out of the army and needed guidance. Those two mentors have given me so much of their time and advice over the last couple of years.

Tell us about a time a mentor has accelerated your career?

One of my mentors in the military, Adam Lightsome, really helped when I was about to transition out of the army. Things were not really going in the direction I wanted them to go and he took the time to empathize and sympathize with me. He challenged me to do some deep diving and self-assessment. That was really what I needed at the time and that really helped me during my transition.

Tell us about a time a mentor has helped you accomplish a specific goal.

Mark Haskins, who I mentioned previously, has really given me a lot of good guideposts along the way in order to achieve what I need to achieve in my job. He advised me on how to engage with my stakeholders. Mark does a really great job of giving me advice within the frame and scope of what I do.

Any advice your mentor has given you that has really stuck with you?

Be humble and willing to serve people.

What's the weirdest or strangest thing you've ever asked your mentor?

Last year when I got engaged, I asked my mentor what we should do for the wedding and he just said something ridiculous, “Make it a Star Wars-themed wedding!”

He's joked around like that before and I appreciate that and him because he doesn't take himself too seriously.

What would you tell your mentors if they were listening to you right now?

I would tell them how much I appreciated their wisdom and their guidance over the years. How much they have helped me succeed in higher education. How much their influence has helped me make that transition from the military into higher education.

What makes a great mentee in your opinion?

A great mentee is able to listen, has the ability to take what the mentor is saying. He can think about it for a while and then go back and ask for additional time to rehash what they said.

Why do you mentor?

My disposition as a mentor is to help people. I’m not an expert but it's been more of a, “Hey, how can I guide you along this way?” Because I'm at a different stage of life than some service members are.

As a mentor, what topics do you like to mentor on?

I like to talk about livable wages. What degrees or what certificates will get you into a livable wage, strategizing higher education. How to pay for higher education, strategizing. We talk about where they could possibly go next.

What does success mean to you?

Success to me is to ensure that service members are going into higher education with a better understanding. I prepare them to go into the workforce. That's definitely something that I focus on.

When did you know you achieved career success?

When I get up and love what I do every single day. And yes, there is hard work put into it but it comes naturally.

What is the secret behind your success?

It's trying to do the best you can. Trying to put the best information you have out there. Trying to put out as much social media content as I can, being available through alternative means, not just email, but through call or text on different business lines, that's been a huge success. Being available is huge.


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