So you’ve heard me talk about what mentorship means to me, and you’ve read a few stories from students, faculty, and staff about being a mentor and a mentee in their everyday lives. You might be thinking “Okay Kaylah I get it, mentorship can potentially happen anywhere and everywhere – but what do I do now?”. Well, that’s a great question, and I’m glad you asked.
Reflection holds a warm place in my heart, so I’m going to introduce you to an activity that has helped me learn a lot about myself over the past few years: What? So what? Now what? What if?
What is mentorship?
The first step in this journey is to figure out what mentorship means to you – do you already have experiences with it? Is it a brand new concept to you? You’ve heard other people’s experiences – now it’s your turn to think about it!
Hopefully after reading my last two posts you thought about times in which you felt like a mentor and a mentee – what happened that made you feel like that? Where did it happen? Who were you with?
Why is mentorship important to you?
Thinking about your experiences with mentorship, think about what have you learned. How do you feel that your role as a mentor or mentee impacted your relationship with the person you were engaging with?
Everybody has a different relationship with mentorship – how does it fit in your life?
How can you incorporate mentorship into your life?
There are many ways you could incorporate mentorship into your own personal life, but here are a few steps that might help guide you in getting started:
Adopt the mentorship mindset:
- Enter every situation and conversation with the goal of learning and growing, and encourage others to do the same. This creates potential for any interaction to become mentorship.
- Tell your story – people enjoy hearing stories, and while you may not always be telling it to intentionally teach someone something, there is always something that can be learned.
Find a mentor:
- Find someone you admire, someone whose experiences and guidance you would like to learn from. This does not need to be a super serious and formal relationship – that professor who creates awesome learning opportunities for you, that supervisor that has encouraged learning and growth in you, that friend who inspires you to inspire others – literally anyone could be your mentor!
- If you don’t know them too well – get together for a quick chat! Make sure they have experiences and guidance that you feel you could learn from.
- Ask them to be your mentor! Too forward? After chatting with them about something, ask if you can follow up with them to continue talking about your experiences with a particular situation; an example with a professor: “I’ve enjoyed talking with you about how I can relate your course material to my future career goals – do you mind if we meet to talk about this again after I’ve reflected on it a bit more?”
- When you have found a mentor – be proactive about it! Be forthcoming about what you want to discuss with them, and what you’d like to learn from them. This will help build a relationship that is beneficial for the both of you.
What would happen if you integrated the concept of mentorship into your everyday life?
A fun thought exercise before you actually start your mentorship journey…
Think about the relationships in your life – how would they change if you approached them with mentorship in mind?
Think about your life right now – how would having a mentor, or being a mentor, impact your life and the decisions you make?
This will help you build an idea of how you would like mentorship to impact your life. When you’re working to achieve a goal, it can be helpful to imagine what you want the end to look like.
Well, that’s all I have to say! I hope you learned something through these posts – I certainly did! Mentorship is an amazing thing – it can improve relationships, guide you in times of confusion, and facilitate learning and growth. I’m confident you have all been involved in mentorship in some area of your life – maybe you haven’t identified it yet, or maybe you’ve experienced it in a formal program but would like to expand it to other areas of your life. Either way, mentorship is definitely something you should have in your life, and I’m happy that I get to play a role in your journey!
I have some amazing mentors in my life, and I have so much appreciation for them – I wish you good luck in building mentorships of your own!
Mentorship Week at U of T runs February 8 – 12, 2016. For more information on Mentorship Week, visit here: http://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/mpp/mentorship-week
Follow #UofTMentorMoments for more information about events, contests and giveaways.