My Mentorship Experience
I have been often asked to share my mentorship experiences with Educational Institutions around the world. Especially during the past two years, I have had the good fortune to mentor several NUS (National University of Singapore) students (in Faculties such as Architect/Design, Law, Medicine and Scientists) through a series of face-to-face conversation and emails. Each mentorship experience was completely different. I personally see the mentee/mentor relationship as growing together.
After being matched with a mentee, the first step, namely to meet in person, is the most crucial one. Why? First of all, it’s important to show up which isn’t the easiest step especially when dealing with millennial’s or the work-loaded last year undergraduates. Secondly, get to know each other in order to discuss topics with immediate feedback that allow your conversation to have a more personal and relaxed feeling in order to gain trust.
We all face challenges as we go through our education and training. We question our decisions and look for direction from the examples of our predecessors. There is a point in time when we gain the ability to reflect on these experiences and begin to provide others with advice. This experience reminded me that mentoring offers positive outcomes for all participants in the conversation; in this case, not just for my mentees, but for me as well.
Personally, I think our collective knowledge is a strength and our experiences can lead the next generation of professionals
The act of discussing these experiences with a mentee gave me a new sense of affirmation. I recognized my mentees were facing some of the same feelings of insecurities I had experienced at that age, which by the way, many of us do forget! As we continued, our conversation developed into more of a shared reflection rather than a one-sided, mentor-to-mentee monologue. Conversation should be like a tennis match where the ball keeps coming back in different ways and shapes. This way, you can balance the power in the relationship you’re trying to build.
A challenge is the expectations of holding time lines. If the mentor and student do not have an open conversation about timelines, unfortunately there will be a potential for a conflict of expectations. We all struggle nowadays with the timing of events in our lives. As a student it sometimes seems as if your time is constantly lost to a schedule created by other people. The discussion of this time management topic releases a huge burden of guilt on the students.
Personally, I think together, mentor and mentee do make an active step in a positive direction toward their future successes.
My final reflection after years of mentorship experience is that mentoring is a continuum: the more people join any kind of mentorship programme, the stronger all our voices become.