Mentorship is a unique relationship between a person who is experienced in a particular trade or industry and a person who is newer to the industry.
Mentorship isn’t a replacement for formal education or training programs. Instead, it complements other types of learning and allows people who are new to the industry to gain knowledge and insight in a one-on-one, casual setting.
Mentorship gives mentees the opportunity to ask questions and receive insight that is specific to their interests, goals and ambitions.
A mentor may share with a mentee information about his or her own career path, as well as provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modeling. A mentor may help with exploring careers, setting goals, developing contacts, and identifying resources.
The mentee should absorb the mentor’s knowledge and have the ambition and desire to know what to do with this knowledge. The mentee needs to practice and demonstrate what has been learned.
For both parties, mentoring should be an established interaction and dialogue where reflection is facilitated by the mentor.
In some cases, prospective mentees find a mentor through a formal network or mentorship program that pairs mentors and mentees. Formal mentoring in the workplace involves mentors and mentees meeting up for frequent face-to-face mentoring sessions over a longer period.
These programs are structured and organized by program administrators. Formal programs include ones run through professional associations such as the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers or local programs such as Organized Kaos.
However, it is common for mentorship to develop naturally when a younger industry professional meets someone more experienced in the industry. The information and wisdom that mentors provide is valuable and it does not have to cost anything for mentees to work with mentors.
Mentors offer their time and knowledge, and they enjoy the opportunity to guide people who are just beginning their careers to help them reach their goals. A mentor also receives benefits – not only do they experience more meaning in their work, they gain important skills to improve as a leader.
Industries where mentorship is more common include manufacturing, engineering, media, and the skilled trades where during the course of the apprenticeship, an apprentice and journeyman interact in a mentor/mentee situation for several years.
In many fields, a mentoring program shows potential employees a good corporate culture. An employee or supervisor taking someone under their wing promotes a different kind of bonding and knowledge sharing. It signals a supportive environment.
This kind of employee engagement can reduce turnover, always a critical goal.
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