What comes to mind when you say mentor?
According to Wikipedia, a mentor is a trusted friend, counselor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. Today, mentors provide their expertise to less experienced individuals in order to help them advance their careers, enhance their education, and build their networks.
Who do people mentor?
The student of a mentor is called a prot?g? or mentee.
For the past few months, I have been involved in several mentoring opportunities:
- University of Toronto Alumni Mentorship program ? first as an undergraduate student mentored by alumni and now I will be mentoring undergraduates
- Prime Mentors of Canada- one on one project based mentoring with a 12 year old kid from Parkdale Junior Middle School
- KidsNowCanada.org – Volunteer coach for 10 kids, aged between 12 and 13 years old studying at Albion Junior Middle School
Personally, it has been a very enriching experience for me and my mentees or prot?g?s. In the process, I have become a better listener and communicator. I will detail more of my experience in a later post.
But, do I really need a mentor? What for?
I believe anybody can use a mentor, regardless of his/her level of experience. You might be a really good coder but you lack some soft skills like communication.
What can you do?
Think of people at work or in your personal life who you know are good communicators. Ask them to be your mentor. A good mentor can ease you through the process of becoming a better communicator. Alternatively, you can join public speaking clubs like Toastmastersto become a better communicator in a friendly and supportive environment.
Even great people have mentors.
Wikipedia mentions that many of the world’s most successful people have benefited from having a mentor including:
- business people – Freddie Laker mentored Richard Branson
- politicians – Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great
- actors – Mel Gibson mentored Heath Ledger
- athletes – Eddy Merckx (five-time Tour de France winner) mentored Lance Armstrong (seven-time Tour de France winner).
For mentor pairings in the Mentor Hall of Fame: http://www.mentors.ca/mentorpairs.html
So, what can we do at Intelliware?
Together with the Skills Development Workgroup, I have been championing the idea of establishing a mentorship program. Currently, we will be starting a 3 month pilot mentorship program consisting of a limited number of people of varying degrees of experience and skills. I am hoping that we can learn from this experience and roll out a mentorship program to the whole company.
Let me know if you have any thoughts.