At some stage in their lives or careers, many people have benefited from the support of a mentor. A mentor can be an advisor, a role model or a sounding board, and can provide a safe place for you to talk openly about your hopes and ambitions, along with the challenges you face. Your mentor may be someone you chat with over coffee from time to time, or a powerful sponsor who opens doors and helps you make strategic connections. Alternatively, mentors can be ‘formal’; that is, someone who is paired with you by an organised mentoring scheme, or ‘informal’, such as a friend or colleague who provides support to you on an ad hoc basis.
A mentor can be someone with whom you identify, because they are like you in some way and because you can see yourself in them. He or she is prepared to take you under their wing, to show an interest in you and your career and help you to achieve your goals. A mentor is often able to share relevant experiences from their own life and suggest actions and strategies for you to consider.
Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a mentor already (even if you didn’t realise it), or maybe you had one at some time in the past?
Activity 2 Reflecting on previous mentors
- Make a list of any formal mentors you have had in the past. These could have been at work, or perhaps an academic supervisor or research group leader. What was this experience like and what benefits did you get out of it? Could you resume contact with any of these?
Table 1 Previous mentors
|Mentor name||Role/relationship||Positive influence||Contact again?|
|e.g. Sam Jones||Line manager||Career advice||Yes|
- Now try this short activity to identify your informal mentors:
- i.Look back at the lifeline that you drew in Week 1. Who are the influential people that have helped you to develop and build your career?
- ii.At what points in your journey did they come into your life?
- iii.In what way were/are they influential?
- iv.What did you learn from your time with each of these people?