Feel the fear and do it anyway: getting into mentoring
I’ve found it informative to hear from students about their anxieties around getting into mentoring. Some of these included:
- Not sure where to start
- Self-doubt about their ability to interact with a professional
- Fear of rejection or not being liked by their potential mentor
- How and when to interact with a mentor.
You could see this reflected in a 2019 survey stating that although 76% of the 3,000 respondents thought mentors are important, only 37% had one.
I would say that a lot of the connotation around the word mentor is due to perceptions about what it should be and not what it could be. By this I mean mentoring for me has been mostly informal and not necessarily long term. I like to learn from everyone in my life – personally and professionally.
Similar to what Ashley Taylor (UTS alumnus) mentioned in his blog, some of these people in my life didn’t realise that they were my mentors. I hadn’t even realised that I had been a mentor to someone until they mentioned what they learnt from me.
There are many types of mentoring relationships ranging in levels of formality and timeframes.
For example, at the start of this blog, my learning from students can be seen as ‘reverse mentoring’. UTS Careers express appointments are conducted by trained students, which can be seen as ‘peer-to-peer mentoring’.
I understand that it can be daunting to approach someone for help and support, but if you reframe that to simply someone you can learn from, with equal opportunity for them to learn from you as well, most people will be only too happy to help you out.
We need to reframe what mentoring is: a way to learn from each other, and a two-way interaction. You can see this in an interview with a mentee and a mentor of how the mentor also benefits from the relationship.
Computing Science (Honours) student, Rosemary shares practical tips on maximising your mentorship so it’s not overwhelming whilst Ajanta Moitra (UTS Engineering alumnus) shares how rewarding it has been for her to be a mentor.
If you’re like most of us and procrastinate about your career action items, then having a mentor can make you accountable to take action. Whenever I keep put something off, I verbalise it to someone and ask them to follow-up and check whether I’ve taken action, as mentioned in this blog on bias to action.
Speaking of taking action – if you’re still thinking I don’t know how to start the conversation, or, what I should talk about?! here are six discussion topics with related examples to get you started.
If that is still too much then the simplest step you could take today is to create your profile on our Professional Mentoring Platform (PMP. Hundreds of industry, including alumni, have already registered their profile on PMP because they want to help you out with mentoring.
So go on, feel the fear and do it anyway!
Featured image courtesy of Pexels
By Esita Sogotubu
Esita Sogotubu is an experienced career development practitioner with 10 years of service at UTS Careers. She has worked in hospitality and was a newspaper reporter in another life. As an Employability Manager she is a great believer of self-awareness being key to personal and professional development and success. Her work in the Career Programs Team has included the Accomplish Award and Univative. She has a particular interest and passion for international students, as she was one herself.