Thing 11: Mentoring…another way to be the master of your fate…
August 3, 2011
Thing 11 really hit home for me. I am someone who has always wished to have a mentor, but I have felt that my library experiences have always precluded me from having a mentor.
I know several people who have been fortunate enough in their careers to have developed relationships with people who were interested in them both in their careers and their personal lives to assist them in growing within their professions. In these cases, the mentor sought out the mentee, due to the huge potential they saw in the employee. The mentees have had exceptional opportunities and challenges due to the influence of the mentor.
I have always been envious (in a good way) of this type of relationship. None of my relationships with my directors at my other positions lent themselves to mentoring opportunities (I think many were burned out or ready for retirement and were not interested in this side of the profession.) In most cases, I was left to develop the position on my own, and this took up a lot of time and energy to do it right.
In spite of this, and in spite of a lack of direction and encouragement at times, I have always sought out professional development opportunities at any of my jobs. I have felt that you must seek out continuing education that relates to your current work or interest in order to be energized and not stagnant. For example, I have taken workshops on bibliographic instruction, marketing your library, electronic/business research, and copyright certification.
So why have I not sought out a mentor? I never considered that this was not an organic process. I thought a mentor/mentee relationship basically developed out of shared interests or serendipity, and not something that could be as simple as requesting such a relationship. Along with networking, this relationship is very powerful in a job search and throughout your career.
I am fortunate in that I feel that I have a “peer” mentor relationship with a former colleague, where we have much in common and worked very well together. I always felt energized and inspired kicking around ideas with her, and she has been emotionally supportive with all the changes I have been undergoing in recent months. I hope I have been the same with her as she also recently began a challenging position at another company shortly before I left.
I feel that I do have a peer mentor, but would like to seek out a mentor who has also been in the profession for many years or who has had a wide experience in various libraries or information outlets. When I have my networking meetings in the next few weeks, I think I will ask some questions of these contacts about their mentoring/mentee experiences to get more information and a better idea of how this will work.
Again, being master of my fate will require impetus and proactivity on my part–I cannot be passive but must step out of my comfort zone to continue to grow and learn.