For the last 5 years I have been a mentor as part of the QUT Mentor program. Which means that each year I am matched with a mentee who is generally a 2nd or 3rd year student and is looking for some guidance when it comes to their career.
On a practical level – this roughly translates to a monthly catchup over coffee as we talk through whatever the mentee wants to focus on at the time.
Some years the match is outstanding and it has been a privilege to work with the student throughout the year and see them grow and develop. My very first mentee (the incredible Edda Hamar) is someone who I still catch up with regularly today.
Then there are those years where the match never quite gels and the mentorship just falls by the wayside.
Both scenarios are 100% reflective of real life. In both work and personal life, sometimes you just hit it off with people and other times … not so much.
But Mid-April, I experienced something new. I received a break up email.
We had only met once and I thought the meeting had gone great. There were even exceptionally positive followup emails from said meeting. So when I receive the email with lines like:
> “I don’t feel that my career goals are aligned with your experience and areas of expertise.”
> “I still feel unsure about what exactly I would like to do, but if I’m really honest with myself, I don’t think a career in the corporate or private business sector is for me.”
It frustrates me. Alot.
Because reading between the lines, what I actually see is “I don’t think you can get me a job, so I’m going to cut my losses now.”
And that is not what mentorship is about.
Mentorship is about sharing learning, perspectives and experiences. We can chat through ideas on how you can tackle certain problems or approach different challenges. I have the opportunity to draw on my (almost!) 20 years of work experience to help and guide you whilst you are still trying to figure it all out.
And yes, over time, as we build rapport and trust, I might start to introduce you to some of my contacts that I believe can help you further. And I might offer you experiences that I think will be immensely beneficial to your journey. I am happy to invest time and effort into a relationship if you are also coming to the party with the commitment.
But those benefits are reserved for those who earn it … because there is no way I will risk burning my contacts or wasting my opportunities if they are not going to be appreciated.
Now I can hear at least 37% of you out there ready to throw something at me saying “leave the girl alone” and “maybe it just wasn’t a good match” and I absolutely get that. Sure.
But we live in an impatient world and I feel like whilst everyone wants a mentor … that comes with the expectation of instant gratification, and if you can’t satisfy the expectations upfront … then you are not seen as valuable.
So to all of you out there embarking on mentee relationships … even if you can’t see the instant fit … I encourage you to learn all you can from the amazing mentors that are willing to give you their time … because you just never know what you might learn.
As for me … I’m going to take this break up as a sign from the universe. And rather than go back for a re-match straight away … I’m going to mix things up in 2018.
So for the rest of the year I’ve set aside a couple of hours on the First Friday of the month to have a coffee with … well any of the young people in our community who wants to spend an hour with me (hey if you’re interstate I’m even open to a coffee chat over Skype or FaceTime). Maybe we will just have coffee for an hour, maybe we will catch up more than once. All you have to do is ask and let me know what you might want to chat about!!!