STS Sci/Tech Library Mentors: Learn about Mentoring
What is a Mentor?
The role of the mentor varies, depending upon the level of commitment established by both the mentor and mentee. Types of mentoring relationships include:
- Teacher, trainer, coach
- Positive role model
- Developer of talent
- Opener of doors
- Successful leader
A mentoring relationship can be established based on just one of these areas, or a mentor can serve in all of these functions. Typically, a mentoring relationship is developed between someone who is new to the profession and a more experienced person in the field. However, mentoring relationships can involve someone who has been in the field for awhile, but is changing career paths and is looking for guidance and support. It can also be someone who is just looking for support and direction. (The Mentorship Handbook: A Guide for SLA Chapters and Divisions to Establish Mentorship Programs, Special Libraries Association.)
Who Should be a Mentor/Mentee?
Mentees should have the following attributes:
- Potential leadership skills and an interest in becoming a leader.
- Willingness to listen to feedback and advice.
- Commitment to advancing in the profession.
Good mentors have the following qualities:
- Motivated, committed to mentor.
- Excellent communicator.
- A good listener as well as advisor.
- Professionally active and well-respected.
- Supportive and encouraging.
- Experienced in the areas of interest to the mentee.
Mentors will spend much time and effort in helping you to develop professionally, and they want to know their efforts will be rewarded by your success in and contributions to the profession.
Stages of Mentorship
Find out about each other, see if there is a match of personality, professional goals, etc.
What does each person want from the relationship? What expectations does each person have for the other? What commitments are required by both parties?
Start to work on the relationship. Uphold responsibilities laid out in Negotiation phase. Continue to define and redefine relationship. Be open to both teach and learn as competencies are gained.
There can be a predefined expiration date for the relationship (e.g., a one year commitment), or it can end, hopefully mutually, when interests or professional positions change. Mentorships may continue indefinitely. Mentees may feel able to assume mentor role with another person to continue the cycle.
It is important to resolve expectations at the beginning of the mentorship so that both parties are working toward the same goals. Don't feel pressured to form a mentorship if you are not comfortable with the person assigned to you. We can always find you another partner. Please contact us if you would like to be assigned another mentor.
The Continuing Education Committee expresses gratitude to the SLA Physics Astronomy Mathematics (PAM) Division for allowing the STS Continuing Education Committee to borrow and adapt sections of their mentoring program pages.