I’ve pondered this Thing (on mentoring) for a week, partly as I didn’t know what I’d write!
In my current role as Libraries Development Adviser for Wales I’m not working as an actual librarian (*klaxon alert* imposter in the room!). I’ve been in the current role, sans mentor, for almost a shocking seven years. I’m not sure where I’m heading, and I suppose a mentor could help me with that, but from what field would I look for the mentor?
If I wanted to return to working in an actual proper library I would probably need to find a mentor who is in a senior position in a library service (which is ok, as I know lots of them through my job).
But if I was going to go in a different direction (e.g. communications? marketing? research?) I would be better placed looking for someone in those fields.
Through the performance management plan system we have in work I do have to include a career section in the form, and training needs. We are also now working to a nine box grid system, and depending on where you are placed in the gird, different training and development opportunities could be offered. Mentoring is listed as one of the opportunities. But I haven’t really looked into it because I’m kind of happy in my current role and not sure where I’m going to be in 5 or 10 years.
Ultimately, my career path could go wildly different if I forsake librarianship for yoga and become a yoga teacher full time and run off to the hills and set up a retreat centre. That’s my little personal dream shared!
Whilst cogitating this mentor thing I remembered I have some current and former experience of mentors. I’m learning Welsh and have a Welsh mentor in work – a lovely girl called Menna. She’s very good with me and we meet up every fortnight. My division in work has a mentoring scheme for learning Welsh and each year we agree how often we’ll meet, what we’ll do (chat, translate a short email, do stuff that I need to work on etc). I have returned the benefits as I passed on some information which will be useful for her career.
In the yoga world I would consider the tutor who taught me on my teacher training course to be a mentor, and another yoga teacher (who was not only my first ever yoga teacher -other than my Mum! – but also the one who did my final class assessment) and I have also kept in touch in the last couple of years to share, chat, pass on information etc. In fact, in her most recent email she put “… it’s all part and parcel of us each helping the other when we can. ” That sounds really nice to me. I’m also part of a yoga group locally and whilst none of the other teachers are formally a mentor we all help each other and share information.
And then there’s my supervisor during the PhD process who was a mentor. He helped, supported and advised me, and I did ask his opinion on two jobs which were advertised on the same day – one of which I got!
And going even further back, another former lecturer from DIS (or DILS as it was for me, or CLW if you’re older) advised me to return to research (I was doing a p/t job in a lovely publishing company, and p/t self-employed research work for lecturers in the department) formally and do the research training masters’ followed by a PhD. So I did. And this is where I am! I also worked for him (Prof Hywel Roberts) in my first job on completing the masters’, as a research assistant. I am still in touch with him now so I guess I could approach him informally for advice, should I know what I wanted to ask!