By Katie Marlow.
Back in 1999 I graduated from Bournemouth University. With my hard-earned PR degree I headed off to get a job. I was so pleased with myself. My head of sixth form had written me off, quite brutally telling my Mum I’d amount to nothing. Those words burned. I’d really not enjoyed my school days. But I was always determined and loved learning, so achieving my degree was big success for me.
Upon graduating, I loved the work I did and moved through various in-house roles to broaden my horizons and experience. But looking back now, I realise I could have benefitted so much from someone to help me navigate the changes, the opportunities and the non-starters in my career. It would have been brilliant to have a positive force to help keep me on track and push me on when needed.
What I really would have benefited from was a mentor.
Now I’m able to give that support to others in their careers. I’ve been mentoring through different schemes for the last five years and have found it immensely rewarding.
Here are my top reasons for mentoring:
1 Helping others achieve their ambitions: what a brilliant feeling knowing that someone you’ve been championing and supporting has got the job, got the promotion, left the company, started out on their own or simply made sense of the new job they’ve landed and how to manage it all with your support.
2 Learning: no matter how many years you’ve been working in comms, there is a lesson to learn. We can be stuck in our own work and patterns. Taking some focussed time to help others, understand their work and challenges, makes you learn a lot. I’ve helped people who are working in a range of sectors I’ve never worked in. Their challenges have all been quite different, from just starting out in internal comms to preparing to retire. I’ve been able to take a step back and support people in industries and situations I’ve not been in, and I’ve learned a huge amount along the way.
3 Broadening your perspectives and horizons: through mentoring you’re able to put yourself in the shoes of others. This is really helpful in planning your own career, areas for growth and development and benefiting your day-to-day practice with a different perspective. You notice gaps and opportunities for yourself and can take action to address them.
4 Connections: as a mentor you get to connect with people you may not ordinarily meet or work with. I always enjoy making new connections. Professional membership and the mentoring scheme within CIPR are a really great way to do that. You meet people with whom you already have a little in common, so you know you share some values about the profession and doing good work. That’s an important foundation for a successful mentoring relationship.
If you’re considering mentoring, sign up.