By Kristin McVeigh
Co-Director, Career Services (Mentorship)
Here are five reasons you should check out IABC/Calgary’s mentorship program.
A great mentorship experience is one that can have a major impact on both the mentor and mentee. Many communicators even look back on a mentoring relationship as a pivotal moment in their career.
IABC/Calgary has just kicked off our 2021-22 Mentorship Program. At the beginning of our program, we always host an orientation event. This year, at our virtual event, we invited past participants to share their experiences in the program. Along with what I’ve learned in my five years volunteering and participating in the mentorship portfolio, here are some ways to enhance your mentorship experience:
- Set goals. In our mentorship toolkit, we talk about setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).
However, you choose to structure your goals, it’s important for a mentee to think about why they are looking for a mentor in the first place and how they would measure success. This is also a great conversation to have together, as mentors can offer their experience.
- The mentee should take charge of setting appointments. It is of course important to have a conversation about what time works best for both of you. But just as the mentee has taken an active role in taking their career to the next level, it’s also time to take an active role in initiating the appointments. A mentor is generously giving their time to offer insight, and we want to show them we appreciate it.
- Be vulnerable. One of the subjects that always comes up in our mentoring conversations is vulnerability. This is on the part of both the mentor and mentee. For a mentee, it can be difficult to talk about areas we are struggling. Mentors can also encounter things like imposter syndrome (do I really have enough to offer to be a mentor?). It can also take vulnerability on both individuals to discuss past experiences where we’ve made a mistake or how we’ve overcome weaknesses. Our past participants have assured us that vulnerability can take your experience to the next level.
- Try new things. Many of our participants meet for coffee monthly. In our mentorship program, we offer suggestions of other ways to add value to the experience, like double dating (meeting up with another pair) or attending an IABC event together. Attending a professional development event is a great way to spark new conversations. Some of our participants have taken it upon themselves to add a layer of creativity. One year the individuals in a pair were both foodies, so they visited a different taco restaurant at each meeting. Last year, another pair did a mini-book club as part of their regular meet-up.
- Be flexible. Earlier in this list, we discussed setting SMART goals to track the progress of your mentoring relationship. While that’s important, our past participants also talk about the value of being flexible. As you build your relationship with your mentor/mentee, you will learn unexpected things. When I first joined IABC/Calgary one of the first things I did was join the mentorship program as a mentee. I had career aspirations at the time that my mentor helped me attain, but she also helped pave the way for my volunteerism at IABC – which was an unexpected outcome!
The application window for our 2021-22 Mentorship Program has closed for this year. Whether you’re a participant in our current cohort or engaged in a less formal mentorship relationship, you can follow the above tips to get more out of the experience. Watch for submissions to our 2022-23 program in the fall or send any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org.