Mentoring can be an effective way to benefit from the experience of someone who’s ‘been there and done that’ and who wants to help you... Want to find out more?
Ask most successful people what has helped them to achieve success in their careers, and many will mention a lot of hard work, some will say a modicum of luck but most will also refer to the help and support they received from a significant person who pointed them in the right direction or gave them the time, encouragement and support to achieve their goals. Some would call this inspirational person a friend, a parent, a teacher or a manager but the common term in industry is often a mentor.
Now you’d perhaps want Kylie Minogue or will.i.am or even Tom Jones as your mentor if you were on The Voice and a musical career is what you strove for, but if that is not your leaning, finding a more suitable career mentor can be a valuable thing to pursue.
A career mentor can share the benefits of their experience and insights of an industry, a company or job role; they can give you advice and tips on the recruitment process and help you face job search and progression with greater confidence. They may also help you to assess your current skills, identify gaps in your skill or knowledge base and then help you to identify strategies for meeting these development needs.
No one can ever tell you what to do, but people often say that discussing a situation with another objective person can help them to see different perspectives, generate other ideas, find alternative ways of overcoming obstacles or handling situations and therefore make better decisions – benefitting from the experience (and mistakes) of someone else who may have been in that situation before.
Whatever you want to achieve, your role as mentee is to define the goals you want to achieve and a mentor may be able to help you to identify the steps you need to take to achieve them, offering feedback and encouragement along the way.
We were all caught up in the excitement of Jess Ennis at the 2012 Olympics and last year Andy Murray wowed us with his success at Wimbledon. When you look at any successful athlete or sportsperson they are surrounded by a team of people to help them reach peak performance and achieve the accolade in their event. They may have a coach, nutritionist, physiotherapist just to name a few and just as in sports, you may want to build a team around you to improve your career fitness and support you to achieve success in your career.
In the careers sense ‘your team’ obviously includes the Careers Service, and may include an academic or project supervisor, a family member or friends each able to offer you advice and support to help you achieve your career goals in their own way. If you would like your own dedicated career mentor, however, the Careers Service is currently launching 3 different mentoring schemes:
- Engineering eMentoring - currently being piloted for Civil/Structural and Mechanical Engineering penultimate year students.
- Transitions Mentoring -targeted at UK Arts and Humanities Faculty undergraduates from “widening participation” backgrounds, which could mean mature students, those on full living cost grants, or from a school/college or neighbourhood traditionally under-represented in higher education.
- Alumni eMentoring Scheme, introducing any student of any faculty to an alumni mentor for a mentoring partnership conducted over email. (due to launch soon – keep an eye on the Careers Service website for details
Now for the lesson in Greek Mythology (no it wasn’t the reference to the Olympics above). Mentor (allegedly the son of Heracles in Greek Mythology) was assigned to look after Odysseus’ son, Telemachus, while Odysseus was away at the Trojan War. This (according to good old Wikipedia!) is how the term Mentor has been adopted as a term to refer to someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with someone less experienced.
Remember the old phrase ‘it’s not just what you know, but who you know’ that can make the difference. Start today by building your network, benefitting from Greek Mythology and finding your mentor for career success – and you don’t even have to wear a toga!
Annette (Careers Adviser)