Very often, we always hear the word “mentor’ fly around, especially amongst students. It is quite sad that a lot of people use the word without the understanding of what it means or what a mentorship entails. It is often used interchangeably with the word, “role model” but they mean two different things.
A mentorship is a relationship between two people where the individual with more experience, knowledge, and connections is able to pass along what they have learned to a more junior individual within a certain field. While the more senior individual is the mentor, the more junior one is the mentee. From this, it is clear that a mentor is a person or friend who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling positive behaviors.
“A mentor is supposed to be dependable, engaged, authentic and concerned about the progress of the mentee.”
A role model on the other hand is someone whose behavior, you admire and try to imitate their behavioral patterns. So you see, you need to have a relationship with someone before you can refer to the person as a mentor. A mentor is not someone you admire from afar.
Now that we have clarified these terms and understood the differences, here are some things you should know about mentorship.
Know these, know peace.
A mentorship is supposed to be a mutual relationship. Your mentor must know that you are being mentored. It is supposed to be clear in order to avoid disappointment. So, if you are confused about your stance with your so-called mentor, maybe you need to think about it again.
A mentorship is meant to help you advance within your field and connect you with opportunities. So, sorry, you cannot say, ‘I like how he dresses, so he’s my mentor”. Except the person is a model or stylist, that is not a mentorship. The purpose of a mentorship is to help you grow and improve on that which you already know or are working towards. If it’s not doing any of these, you might to check if you mean something else.
At this point, we’re on the same page. So let’s consider some tips to keep our mentorship relationship going. Both the mentor and the mentee have a role to play in keeping a mentorship going but for now, our focus is on mentees.
First, you need to even know why you want a mentorship, if you are not sure, then, don’t get into one because you’re meant to be thoroughly committed to it. You should have your goals defined before you get a mentor. Let your mentor also know what those goals are. From time to time, you should review your goals and ensure your mentor understands what is expected of you.
Your mentor probably has thousand other things to get done so it is up to you to keep your communication going. Make sure you are always polite, courteous and you respond to mails quickly. Ask questions when you don’t understand anything and speak up if you have a different opinion about something.
Be Consistent and Committed
Understand that you are benefitting more from the mentorship that your mentor, so you need to always show up and stay positive. When you get criticized about something, take it well and improve on that thing. Also, genuinely care about your mentor. Yes, do random check-ups, ask about work and offer to help in case of simple tasks.
Trust us, no mentor will see you exhibit all these traits and not be impressed. When you hammer, don’t forget us at the Oyemaja Foundation. But wait, watch out for part 2 of this mentorship palava.
As usual, we got this one in PDF. Others might not, so quickly download it. You're welcome.