Mentorship as an Enabler for Career Growth

The article was first published in The Assam Tribune on 6th January, 2020 . It's target audience is students and professionals on the lookout for a Mentor for academic and career guidance.

The word Mentorship has become ubiquitous in today’s colloquial parlance. We encounter the word in academics, sports, entrepreneurship, business, government and, not surprisingly, in the corporate world as well. Unfortunately, the extensive usage of the term has caused us to overlook its essence and undermine the value and the ethos that structured and balanced mentorship can provide to the mentee.

What is a ‘good’ Mentorship?

While the barometer for measuring the effectiveness of a mentor-mentee relationship is subjective, there are certain hygiene factors that can contribute towards the efficacy of a #mentorship programme.

Successful mentoring relationships are defined by rules of engagement – the periodicity of meetings, the long-term #goal of the mentee and milestones to be achieved during the course of mentorship. #Communication plays a very critical role in the achievement of the objectives set by the #mentee – the mentee must take the initiative to list out his academic and career objectives, while the mentor should provide objective and unbiased guidance and assessment to the mentee. It also helps to include the mentee’s parents during discussions, especially if the mentee is a student of an impressionable age.

A #mentor must encourage his mentee to become independent, ambitious and develop #criticalthinking capabilities. This could entail the mentee encountering bumps as he pursues his academic or career journey – the mentor may do well not to intervene, but only as a last resort.

Mentorship is also not about replicating a manual – it is not a ‘one size fits all’ discourse. To cater to mentees with different personality traits and at varying stages of academic or professional development, the mentor must improvise and innovate to ensure the growth and success of a mentor-mentee association.

Why is Mentorship important?

The outcome of multiple research efforts worldwide have extolled the virtues of mentorship for the recipient – attitudinal, motivational, behavioural, health-related and in furthering the mentee’s career.

A mentor within an organisation can help a new employee acquire skills distinct to his work-place, or align the mentee’s personal and professional goals with those of the organisation. This type of #collaboration can help the mentee efficiently progress within the organisation, while simultaneously providing him with a sense of engagement, resulting in an increase in the employee satisfaction – consequently, leading to better retention rates for the organisation.

In academics, with the plethora of #career options often, paradoxically, confusing #students and their #guardians, the importance of a #guide and a confidant cannot be emphasised enough. A mentor can help a student structure his thoughts, understand his #corecompetencies and help chart a road-map of academic and career progression. The mentor can touch upon his personal experiences of learning from failures to guide his apprentice, thereby enabling the latter to circumnavigate potential bottlenecks to him realising his goal. Most importantly, the mentor can ensure that the student remains grounded and focused on his objective and is not disillusioned by set-backs or distracted by peer or social pressures.

The dynamic and exciting world of #entrepreneurship thrives on #mentorship. #Startup #incubation programmes, investments by Angel Investors, Venture Capitalists or Private Equity investors and Networking Events are aimed at connecting entrepreneurs to successful individuals and professionals, apart from helping them raise funds for their venture. Renowned personalities like Ratan Tata, Sachin and Binny Bansal (co-founders of #Flipkart) and Nandan Nilekani (co-founder of #Infosys) have been exemplary mentors (and investors) in a host of start-ups, providing them with a wealth of wisdom and experience that goes beyond text-book knowledge.

To be updated after January 13th, 2020

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