I come from a long line of teachers — parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings — you name it they taught it. In fact, when I was in college I originally wanted to be a teacher but lost my mentor early in my college career and lost the drive. So, when I was presented the opportunity to become a mentor for a Schneider associate, I said yes.
As soon as I accepted the challenge through Schneider’s professional mentoring programs, the doubt began to creep in:
- What do I have to offer?
- Will this person see me as someone who wants to help?
- Will I have enough time to do this?
- What if we don’t get along?
- How much work will be involved?
So, I did what all members of my family do when they have questions, I did some research.
What is a mentor?
Dictionary.com defines mentor either “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher” or “an influential senior sponsor or supporter.” Trusted? Wise? Counselor? Influential? What the heck!?! I never really looked at myself as someone another associate would look to for answers about developing a career path. I come to work, do my job and get paid for it.
But then I remembered that I have been in graphic design and marketing for over 25 years. I have hired and fired people, taught at the technical college and have generally made myself available as a resource for team members. That seemed like a good start.
It all started with a resume.
My mentee brought her resume to our first meeting. We reviewed it and realized that there was a lot missing from it. Now I have found that over time if you need to explain something to someone, it is best to use examples so I brought a copy of my resume along to that first meeting. If she had questions she could use mine as a template — something that shows different ways to produce an effective product. It took us several emails and meetings to get to where she could see the difference between the original version and what she is using now.
Once she felt comfortable, I started to ask what she wanted to do with her career at Schneider and from there we formed a plan. She has developed action items, added items to her Individual Development Plan (IDP), scheduled sit-ins and more all to help her attain the goals she wants to achieve. All I had to do was be present, listen and offer the best advice I could give.
She and I have continued our relationship past the one-year requirement in Schneider’s mentoring program and I couldn’t be prouder of what she has done.
6 steps to become a mentor
- Ask questions and challenge.
- Provide guidance and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know.
- Share responsibilities.
- Teach don’t preach.
- Use your resources to help.
Trusted? Wise? Counselor? Influential? I think so.
I’m grateful Schneider offers professional mentoring programs among its career and professional development opportunities, and I’d highly encourage anyone to become a mentor or mentee.