Mentorship Essentials – What mentees need to know

I am a proponent and a believer in the value of mentorship in professional and personal development. Reflecting on my journey, I have benefited from mentors helping me realize the potential that lies within me, guiding me on how to leverage on this potential and most importantly when stuck helping me with the how and where to put it to use. This is the reason I have over time taken up mentorship roles in various spaces including with the PSK Young Pharmacists Group (YPG) that I earlier wrote about here & here and other spaces including Ryculture Health and Social Innovation.

Early this month I was at the 42nd Annual Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya Conference for which I’ve shared my reflections here. Other than the professional conversations and scientific presentations, I was keen to explore ways of supporting my fellow young pharmacists better. This was through the YPG mentorship program where we work to facilitate mentorship by pairing mentors and mentees based on their interest areas both professionally and in personal development. As I earlier alluded to, I’ve benefited from mentorship opportunities and this in some way is associated with me being outgoing and able to engage with mentors where they are. I am in the dancefloor thus getting a dance partner isn’t much of a hustle. We understand that not everyone has such a predisposition and therefore to support them grow, we intentionally and strategically send some dancers to them in the form of mentors who are willing to handhold and guide them on the journey. There is some positive traction but also with a certain level of drawback. One key challenge that was posed to me was on why is it always me and my leadership calling out for support to the young pharmacists yet they never do the asking. No hungry person sits in the house waiting for food to get to him, you either make it or order it from wherever you can. Key is, you must take action. Mentorship is for the benefit of the participants i.e., mentee and mentor who have to actively nurture the relationship.

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey.

In this article, I’m keen to outline some of the aspects that I believe mentees need to know and these are;

  • Your personal development journey is your responsibility and you have to work on it. We can only help where we can based on your need that’s communicated.
  • Mentorship is a two-way traffic. You have to bring something to the table. Bring your perspectives to the discussion to challenge each others’ thought processes. Staying stale like you are in a church doesn’t help anyone. It instead makes the relationship one sided which leads to its failure. Upon being assigned tasks, take them up and follow through.
  • Mentorship has three specific roles: help you realize the potential that lies in you (knowledge phase where new information is shared – awareness creation), engage you on how to put your potential to use and guide you in putting yourself to meaningful productive use. Whether you are clear or unclear on your professional journey, you have a chance to get a mentor to help walk this journey. Take the first step.

A child walks by falling over and over which comes from trying, try your hand on something and get the support you need just like a child holds on tables, chairs and people to make the first steps.

“Spoon feeding, in the long run, teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon” —E.M. Forster.

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