Careers advice: Could mentoring be the solution?

24 January 2020

It’s that time of year where many are thinking about their future career, asking themselves what shall I do, where shall I go, what is achievable or realistic, and how do I make that a reality? 

There are many options available to help tackle these issues and mentoring offers the opportunity for a safe and confidential space, as well as the time to explore issues and alternatives. Understanding, without bias, the reality and potential future, is a powerful career tool.

According to David Clutterbuck, co-founder and lifetime ambassador of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council, having a mentor involves someone listening to you “with empathy, sharing experiences (usually mutually), professional friendship, developing insight through reflection, being a sounding board, encouraging.”

Mentoring adds value as through structured analysis, reflection and action, you are enabled to work out your aims and achieve them in the areas of your life or work - or the balance between them - that are important to you.

As a mentee there will a change from where you are now to where you want to be, which will depend on your aims and the challenges life gives you.

The WBS Global Mentoring Programme participants typically seek a mentor to help with:

  • Rethinking their vision, goals and aims
  • Career progression
  • Career change for a better work life balance
  • Changing industry or sector
  • Support with networking and soft skills
  • Navigating politics and workplace dilemmas.

Mentoring options include:

Corporate Mentoring

There are many examples of mentoring schemes within the corporate world, including Deloitte, Intel and Zynga. They vary in their target audience. For example, Deloitte is for emerging leaders and Zynga is for the whole workforce. There are also schemes for specific groups, including the 30% Club which was originally developed in EY and then expanded to offer a cross company, cross mentoring scheme to women at all levels.

WBS Global Mentoring Programme – celebrating 10 years of mentoring

Our award-winning programme is open exclusively to WBS students and alumni. The two year supported programme offers access to a completely unbiased, confidential mentor who is not from your family, place of work or study. Instead mentors are from the WBS alumni community and understand what it means to navigate a career path. For mentors and mentees, an application process applies. New mentee applications are due to open during the month of February 2020. If are a WBS student or alumnus, you can visit the mentoring webpage for more information or contact the team on mentoring@wbs.ac.uk.

University of Warwick e-Mentoring scheme

This is an online platform open to all students and alumni from the University of Warwick. Whether a student or alumnus, you can sign up to be a mentor or mentee. The support is provided online and typically is more tactical kind of help; perhaps supporting a student who studied something similar or an overseas student who is finding their way. The scheme can also help those keen to find out more about particular job functions, industries/sector or even cultural environments, corporate or geographical. To find out more visit the e-Mentoring webpage.

Mentoring myths:

Should a mentor come from my industry/sector? 

Whilst this could be helpful, it is also worth considering that having someone from the same sector can inadvertently bring assumptions without enough difference to learn and develop.Having someone from outside your industry or sector will require you to explain more but this process can highlight the key fundamental issues that are very often overlooked. It is also true that gaining insight from a mentor from a different sector brings fresh thinking to your own environment.

Should a mentor share their contacts, help open doors and tell me the answers?  

There is often an assumption that a mentor will share their contacts and provide the stepping stones for you to progress. The reality is that they can equip you to broaden your network, ask questions to help you develop, and keep you focused. Some also feel a mentor ought to provide contacts and open doors to jobs or industry contacts. Whilst in some cases this may happen, most mentors provide much more than that; “Give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach them to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime”! 

Remote mentoring doesn’t work? 

Whilst meeting in person is best, depending on the individuals and the issue to hand, remote mentoring might be best. For example, remote working might be suitable when mentees are shy and more introvert and/or where you have an emotive subject matter that the individual may feel more comfortable talking about without fear of any judgement in person.

Mentoring tips

  1. Be as open and honest as you can (although mindful within internal corporate mentoring)
  2. Get to know your mentor/mentee and share something of yourself - this helps to build a confidential space. Plan where will you meet and for how long.
  3. Ensure any session is in a quiet space, free from distractions
  4. Send discussion points ahead of the meeting (agree how much notice to give)
  5. If you want to make notes, let the other person know
  6. Reflect after the session
  7. Write up a status report on the session include any outcomes/action points
  8. Share the status with your mentor, to avoid any ambiguity or misunderstandings
  9. Use this status report as the basis for your next meeting
  10. Schedule a meeting at the end of each session, or have an outline e.g. roughly the first Monday of every month
  11. Keep to appointments but ‘life’ happens, therefore be honest with your mentor about it
  12. If you have been unable to complete the action points, do not hide, be open, and let your mentor know. They are there to support you.

A mentor can give a different perspective and allow the mentee to develop and flourish but it is important to remember that mentoring is much similar to a gym membership; it requires time, commitment and effort to see the benefits.

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