Mentorship Part I

“Time flies and so do I except in my case I have to take a flight. That’s why we have them. Why mentors though?”

It has been a while since I last wrote an article on this wall so today I decide to pick up the momentum hoping I’ll keep on with it. To write you need inspiration and an experience worth writing about so I think I’ve got a piece of it in the last couple of days. On to the topic of the day, Mentorship, if you are a consistent reader of this blog you already know I’m passionate about this particular topic. Ranging from social dimensions to professional development as evidenced in my earlier posts like; Passing the BatonRole Models, Mentors and SponsorsCoaching EssentialsHow Academic Credentials Eroded Reading CultureSkills Development, Employers Role in Professional Development, and An Ecosystem for Professional Development among others. Key of these is the willingness to share insights, offer guidance and support to the protege while on the other hand having a mentee who is willing and eager to learn.

In the last couple of weeks, I have actively been engaging a group of friends, colleagues and associates on matters professional development. On one end I got invited to mentor a couple of pharmacy students across Africa courtesy of International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF), where I have three (3) mentees to walk with for a period of six (6) months. Upon confirmation and official launch of the program, I scheduled a call with my team to set course for this period we’ll work together for which I’m keen to share some of the lessons I picked:

i. It’s important for mentees to have focus on where they intend to go. This makes it clear in ones mentorship journey as it opens doors for the mentor to offer insights, resources and even linkages to the right people and opportunities. I has become clear that with ballooning uncertainty, most young people try anything and everything which not only acts as a distraction but amplifies the confusion.

ii. Being intentional cannot be overemphasized in the personal development journey. Having a mentor to share insights doesn’t mean you won’t have work to do. Your mentor isn’t going to carry the load on your behalf. It’ll be upon you to work and get guidance as you work on your projects in lead up to your goal. Unless you do something, the entire engagement will have gone to waste as there won’t be results without action.

iii. The early bird catches the worm as the saying goes. Being proactive has it’s benefits especially in an ever competitive world. It’s important to be proactive in ones personal and professional development journey as this helps you reap the returns on the same. In this case I’m keen on the kind of relationships we are fostering in our environments. In retrospect when I had the meeting, the most critical question for me was whether my mentees had engaged anyone in their immediate circle for guidance or insight in line with their professional development journeys. There’s value in personal human connections hence the need to proactively seek out mentors in your surrounding. When in school consider taking up lecturers as mentors, in work environments reach out to a senior colleague probably in an area you are interested so that you can learn in line with your interests.

iv. Reading isn’t for bookies for but for everyone committed to their personal development. Reading opens our third eye i.e. exposes us to varied experiences and gives us a different perspective on life. If you keep staying cool and sitting pretty, you may as well reap the fruits of this which I doubt are as sweet. In this case I wouldn’t say reading is only for books. It’s good to read books but at the same time with technology we have access to a variety of articles, podcasts, videos among others with knowledge for us to consume. Why not take 10mins during your trip to work to read an article or so from Harvard Business Review (HBR), McKinsey or any other sources in line with your interests? You wouldn’t have wasted that time.

As we were concluding our call, I gave my mentees a task to accomplish before our next meeting scheduled in two (2) weeks time and I’ll be glad to walk this journey with you as well. Below is the set of tasks for your use:

  • Create your LinkedIn profile and if you have one, ensure it’s updated to reflect your most current status i.e. employment, education and interests. Ensure you have a professional photo. LinkedIn machine learning technology uses this to populate relevant content on your timeline if you are not as active on the platform which serves to help you get updated on emerging trends in your domain.
  • Seek counsel from an individual in your field of practice or area of interest whether he/she is known to you in person or not. In this case you can reach out to a lecturer if you are a student or a LinkedIn contact who works in your field of interest. Get them to share with you their experiences, opportunities and general forecast on how the industry is poised to change over the next couple of years plus how you can position yourself ideally to succeed.

Let’s catch up in Mentorship Part II in the next post.

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