By Andrea Jastrebski
Have you found yourself wondering, “What’s next for my career?” Enter mentorship. Communications professionals suggest that mentorship can help achieve career goals and especially when goals are undefined. With 2020 asking us to embrace change and navigate the new, this year might be a great time to learn new trade tricks by becoming a mentor or being a mentee.
Mentoring relationships always share the same basic idea: a more experienced mentor guides a less experienced mentee by providing career-relevant support and advice. The amount of experience is subjective, though, and it depends on each partner’s mentorship goals. Perhaps the mentee has 15 years of field experience but has never been an independent consultant. Or, it might be the case that the mentor has in-depth knowledge of digital strategy but has never applied it to a non-profit, and the mentee could learn a lot from the subject matter expert. Whatever the case, both the mentor and mentee bring something to the pair.
Mentorship yields reciprocal benefits and both the mentor and mentee have a good chance of achieving their goals. Suppose the goal is to pitch to a new market segment, change career, or advance to the next level, become a leader, or become an executive. Do this through a mentorship. Reaching goals is not the only benefit of mentorship, and with this in mind, we want to point out a few more benefits that you might consider if you’re leaning toward the opportunity.
We’ll start with the benefits of mentorship for the mentee:
- Set personalized goals and integrate an accountability system – we mentioned setting and reaching goals, but we didn’t mention that a formal partnership will help you keep goals at the top of mind. Regular chats will look at goals and provide checkpoints for keeping you on track.
- Find direction when you can’t see the way – those days when work or a situation has taken a left turn, but you expected a right turn, and now you’re lost, a mentor can help find the way back. Chances are, your mentor can see the situation from an outsider’s perspective and can talk you back to the fork in the road. Better yet, your mentor might be able to see another direction that you hadn’t imagined yet. A mentor is there to use their experience to work you through problems and help you find solutions.
- Hear mistakes and note lessons learned – you probably already know that we all make mistakes and that we can use those lessons to do great things. Learning from our own mistakes or others’ mistakes is a stellar tool for doing careful and thoughtful work.
- Grow the network – conversation organically creates a connection to new ideas and often new people. How often have you heard, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I know someone who does.” Mentors want to offer anything they can to guide the mentee to success – their network included.
Of course, the mentor has a lot to gain too:
- You’ll share lessons learned and probably get to see them through a new lens, too. The feedback in conversation will likely have you reflecting on past events in ways that you hadn’t before. You might even consider this transaction feedforward – the kind of advice that moves you forward.
- You’ll have the opportunity to step away from the routine of scheduled work and shift focus to other problems to solve – the kind of problem-solving that helps a friend and credits your good deed account. Plus, sometimes, life outside of the routine is just what is needed to inspire that new idea.
- You’ll spend time listening. Understanding and learning about other people is a practice that never goes out of style. Mentors get to put this into practice while also getting to learn how to respond to different career and life matters.
- You’ll practice skill in developing others – another area that can always use some technique. Mentees are looking for ideas on how to grow and reach goals and, the playbook is thick on this topic. Leading someone to reach a goal is not one size fits all and takes a resourceful, flexible and well-practiced leader.
IABC/Calgary’s mentorship program runs from fall to spring; for more information please check out our website, IABC/Calgary mentorship program.