Thing 11: Mentoring

This post was written for 23 Things for Professional Development, Thing 11: Mentoring

I’ve never had a formal mentor and it’s not something I’ve thought about before. It’s been really interesting reading about other people’s experiences of mentoring, both as a mentor and mentee, and it has got me thinking.  Would I benefit from having a formal mentor?  The conclusion I have come to is not yet.

I am about to start a full-time masters degree and am hoping my tutors, peers and current professional network will be able to provide support for my studies.  During the next year I will also need to think about exactly what direction I want to take my career in – I have some ideas but they need some focusing.  For that I think talking to lots of different people in different roles will be most helpful, though having someone who can act as a sounding board would be good too.  I have three colleagues where I work as a graduate trainee who could be considered informal mentors in some way.  They are people who I admire, who I get on well with and who are interested in my career.  I will definitely be trying to keep in contact with these informal mentors, not least because I will miss them.  One thing I know I need to work on is having the confidence to ask them about things and for advice.  If it’s a question directly relevant to my job I am perfectly happy asking, but  if it is about another aspect of library work or my future career I find it much harder.  I think this is mainly due to the vain worry that they will think my question silly and it will affect their opinion of me – which if I think about is rationally is a completely unnecessary worry.  My plan to make this easier is to make sure that if I ask questions I also tell them about new developments I am learning about at library school so that I feel I am giving something back to them too.

Looking to the future, as I (hopefully) progress on to my first professional role I can see the value of having a formal mentor – someone who I know has agreed to give up their time to help me find my feet.  From what I’ve read of other people’s experiences that structured support can be really valuable.