I have signed up with Griffith University’s Industry Mentoring Program to be a mentor for an undergraduate student. The program is designed to match 200 students with appropriate mentors (just one each, don’t worry!) by providing each student with the profiles of available mentors. This is a blind process – the mentors’ names and personal details are not divulged at this stage. The students then select which mentor they would like to be matched with and the organisers make the match.
The program begins in the second half of their final year of their undergraduate degree and is designed to help them to better understand what they want to do career-wise and support them in their transition from university to the workplace.
I haven’t met my student yet but she has sent me an introductory email including her CV and she has let me know that she is currently reviewing for her exams and will be free to meet later this week.
In the meantime, the organisers have held a mentor briefing session to make sure that we all know what’s involved, what to expect and to share our experiences in previous mentor relationships. They have also held a mentee briefing session to prepare the students for this whole process.
I have been a mentor once before. I was quite young at the time and I’m not sure how helpful I was, except as simply a sounding board for an international student who needed some help navigating the scientific employment process in Australia. This time, I feel like I am well prepared as an experienced person in the scientific community.
The briefing session went well – I met other first-time mentors, some of whom have yet to have any contact with their students. It will be interesting to keep in touch with the others to see how things are progressing for them as well.
So why did I decide to become a mentor? They asked us this during the briefing session and I didn’t really know how to put it into words at the time, but I’ve thought about it quite a bit since then:
- I love teaching
- I love learning
- I love helping others to learn
- I’ve reached the point in my life where I’ve finally figured out what I’m good at and it turns out that I also love what I’m good at!
- Being confident in my abilities now gives me the ability to help inspire this confidence in others.
- I didn’t have this available to me when I started out and it could have been very helpful to give me some insight into what this type of job would entail.
I’m looking forward to meeting my student. She is studying her Bachelor degree, doing a double major in forensic science and criminology while working part time in retail. She seems intelligent and driven and I’m sure we will learn a lot from each other.
Have you been a mentor in a formal program before? How did it work out? What did you learn about yourself or take away from the experience? Or if you were a mentee, how was this experience for you? I’d love to hear from you on this topic.