I have recently considered what it means to be a mentor, because I have signed up with the Victorian Women Lawyers’ mentorship program. My mentee has been allocated to me through the program, and she is a law student with such bright potential, that I feel very proud and protective of her already.
The Mentor-Mentee Relationship
The role of a mentor is to aid the mentee in reaching his or her goals. While the mentor can certainly learn a lot from teaching and leading others, the relationship between the mentor and the mentee should be mentee-centered. So the mentor should listen, guide, and even challenge the mentee to do the best in his or her job or other pursuits.
The mentorship program requires frequent contact between the mentor and the mentee for the communication line to remain open. Mentoring is an interactive relationship wherein both parties can contribute to each other’s grow as a person.
Formal and Informal Mentoring
Anyone can be a mentor or a mentee without joining any mentoring program. For example, just riding a bus and then conversing with a stranger can be a form of mentoring if you learn something important from him; this type of mentoring is known as informal mentoring. Informal mentoring usually just occurs even if you don’t plan it, this can be just as important as a formal mentoring program. Sometimes this also develops in the workplace between senior and junior colleagues.
On the other hand, formal mentoring is having an acknowledged relationship between the mentor and the mentee. Formal mentoring would require the commitment of time and effort between the two parties so that they can share and learn from each other. This type of mentoring program can be for a specific project or for a specified time period.
Finding a Mentor
Asking questions before you commit to a mentoring program is essential for you to reap the best possible benefit. It is also important to have a clear communication line between you and the mentor. Even at the start of the mentoring program, you already need to specify your expectations and your goal so that the mentor will know which direction to take. Oftentimes, you need to consider the following questions before deciding on a mentor:
ï Would the mentor provide me with good and accurate information?
ï Would he support me in reaching my goals and objectives?
ï Would he respect my dreams, my decisions, and my goal in life?
ï Would he challenge me when it is necessary?
ï Can the mentor actually be trusted?
ï Am I willing to listen to this mentor’s ideas and suggestions?
Finally, also trust the universe to a degree, because when you decide that you want a mentor or informal guidance in a particular area, it is amazing the people that show up in your life. Take what you can from those around you, learn, and be open.
Ending the Mentoring Program
However, all good things must come to an end. You cannot continue with the mentoring program forever; sure, you can still communicate with your mentor from time to time but being in a commitment to be each other’s mentor and mentee can become more like a burden rather than a privilege after the mentoring program ends.
Both parties should acknowledge what they have learned and thank each other for the time and effort that the person has spent for another’s well-being. Even after the mentoring program ends though, the mentor can still support the mentee and be there for the mentee when he or she is needed.