Edidiong Idang is an Inclusion and Gender expert. Founder of the Initiative for Peace and Women’s right in Africa, an NGO focusing on girl child education and Women’s participation in Politics and peacebuilding.
Having a mentor is very important for personal and professional growth. Since there are many people who may have achieved success in your desired field, getting a mentor is like seeing yourself in someone else’s mirror. A mentor is also that person that fills the gap between your academic pursuits and your future endeavor. For most young people, the world out there becomes so complex after graduation from school. A mentor therefore is that person who will guide and direct your qualifications, efforts and passion in the right direction; bearing in mind your potentials, future ambitions and the environment you are operating in.
Professionally, a mentor can be described as an individual who provides expertise and professional knowledge to another person in order to enable him/her achieve career advancement. This he does using his experience and skills on the subject or profession. The more senior individual with lots of expertise and experience is called the mentor, while the more junior individual is the mentee. Both share a relationship which is mutual and beneficial to both.
Mentorship is a relationship
Mentorship is a relationship where both the mentor and the mentee benefit from each other. Building a relationship with your mentor is very important. According to Oshiyinka (2019), “The mentor benefits because they are able to lead the future generation in an area they care about and ensure that best practices are passed along; meanwhile, the mentee benefits because they have proven that they are ready to take the next step in their career and can receive the extra help needed to make that advancement”. It is important to make the best of such relationships when opportunities arise. Here are a few tips to manage the Mentor/Mentee relationship.
As a Mentee:
- Trust your mentor: Once you have made up your mind to seek knowledge from a mentor, you must be willing to trust that person. By so doing, you will be open and are able to learn from the person. Endeavour to trust your mentor’s judgement and advice.
- Be open to talk about everything as it relates to the area of expertise: Your mentor will need to understand where you are and where you want to be so you need to be able to openly disclose relevant information to your mentor. Do not be ashamed to talk about your passion, it may just be the missing puzzle.
- Take notes and endeavor to build a vision board to spur up your ambition: Every time you have a session with your mentor, keep a note pad with you. This will act as a reminder and help you reflect on previous discussions. You may want to build a vision board with major outcomes you plan to achieve, this will help you in measuring how far you have come and where you are headed. You are what you see and read.
- Set timeliness for your action points or outcomes: Your mentor may not always be there to follow up with all the action points you have set up for yourself but having a proper timeline will allow you fast track your progress and provide feedback to your mentor
- Be ready to mentor others as well: You should be willing to share your experience with other people. You can do so as a peer mentor, career mentor or life mentor.
As a mentor:
- Be a good listener: A good mentor should be an active listener. An active listener has the ability to focus completely on a speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information and respond thoughtfully. It is void of distractions enabling the listener to pick almost everything from the speaker. Your mentee will be proud that you were able to recap all that he/she had to say at the end of the session.
- Take notes and endeavor that do a recap at the end of each session: Note taking is very critical for retention of information during communication. This will serve as a guide and also remind your mentee of things s/he said in a hurry.
- Keep secrets if any: Confidentiality is very important in maintaining a mentor/mentee relationship. Most people are naturally introverts, they will be happier if their secrets are safe with you.
- Keep sessions short so they don’t become boring: Time management is essential. Both the mentor and the mentee need to be conscious of each other’s other engagement. Sessions should be kept brief so it does not become boring.
- Provide opportunities for your mentees. Depending on the area of need or expertise, a mentor should be willing and able to provide some opportunities for the mentee. Your mentee should feel hopeful after having a session with you. You should be willing to help or lead them to somewhere or someone who can.
https://www.wes.org/advisor-blog/definition-of-mentorship/ September 18, 2019 | by Yetunde Oshinkale