By James Wilson
To give you a bit about my background, I have been part of two mentoring programs; one run by the University of South Australia (UniSA) and the other run by the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI). Like the ALIA mentoring scheme, these also ran for a year and I went through them back to back. I found out about the mentoring schemes through an email I received from AHRI and UniSA and decide to investigate further.
I undertook the first program with AHRI because I was unsure of my career direction. I was studying at the time and coming close to the end of my undergraduate degree and felt that I didn’t have the skillset to assess where my career was heading and needed some guidance. I commenced the second program as I was about to be made redundant from a position and wanted to talk through different ways to market myself. Both times I was paired with incredible people who were willing to give up their time to help me.
At first, I found the idea of being a Mentee a daunting prospect. I was worried about a lot of things (mainly my own inadequacies) but primarily I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I guess I thought that my issues might not be deserving of having a Mentor assist with them and that I would be wasting their time. That however, was not the case because mentoring is not just one-way.
As a Mentee, you are applying to be part of the scheme but so are the Mentors. They are there because they want to be not because they have been forced. That is an extremely strong part of mentoring schemes in that both parties are willing to share and learn. It is also important to note that I believe that there is not a point in your career where you cannot be a Mentee. Continuously developing our skills, is such a huge part of professional development and mentoring schemes are one element of that.
At the beginning of the mentor program we set out our expectations which assisted to formalise the process and give each meeting direction. My sessions focused around career development and how I could market myself differently through my resume, online profile and networking. What I found incredibly useful was that it gave me someone I could sound ideas off. I loved that both of my Mentors were also Mentees during the period that they were mentoring me (the Inception of mentoring schemes).
My first mentor, in his career, provided guidance and assistance to CEOs of very large organisations. When he mentioned that to me in one of our first meetings it made me feel a lot better about myself and about the mentoring process because it again strengthened that there will be times in our career where we will need help for different reasons regardless of whether you’re a CEO or just starting out your career. When speaking with other Mentees about why they joined the scheme I also found this to be the case. There were people needing guidance through projects they were working on and others that were trying to fill a gap in their skill sets.
So, to the question at hand ‘To be or not to be a Mentee?’ To me the decision was simple. I needed guidance to get me where I wanted to be; to where I am now. I said ‘Yes’ to becoming a Mentee and one day I will say ‘Yes’ to becoming a Mentor, but for now I’ll practice on skulls.
To find out more about the ALIA mentoring scheme click here, applications close Friday 23rd June 2017.