Thing 11: Mentoring

I am privileged to have many informal personal mentors. The many people (I can think of two couples and two individuals off the top of my head) I could describe as such have been crucial supporters throughout my life, helping me find the confidence to make big decisions and challenge myself instead of slipping into stasis. Most of the time, I don’t think of them as such, but they fit the description of a mentor given by the various resources on the CPD23 post: someone who advises, encourages and supports you on your way to accomplishing a goal.

With successful mentoring (albeit informal) in my personal life, it is no surprise that I am a great supporter of mentoring in a professional context as well. To a new professional like me, professional development is still a kind of scary idea. Non-librarians may think of librarianship as one vast entity, but in fact it has so many different pathways. Which one should I choose? How can I find the job that will best use my skills? What if I change my mind? I think it’s essential to have someone to talk to about these things. A peer network is very important, but it can be equally useful to speak to someone who has already been through these situations and may have a perspective that more closely matches that of a prospective employer. In an ideal world, a professional mentor will do just what my personal mentors did: encourage me to reach my potential & build my confidence.

The struggle I have with mentoring is this: I can be insecure at times, which means I sometimes need a lot of affirmation. I worry that I will end up taking advantage of my mentors when I get nervous, or that I will just pester them by asking them about every silly thing that comes up in my professional life. I could easily be a needy mentee who gives nothing back to the mentor. However, I hope to be over this fear by the time I am actually ready for a formal mentor. Over the years I have spent with informal mentors, I have been surprised by how much they seem to value my opinion (quite unjustifiably, I think!) and be interested in the new things I inadvertently introduce them to. If I have the right professional mentor, perhaps the same can happen in that relationship after a few years.

I look forward to starting the chartership process someday and meeting the mentor who will be helping me through it. In the meantime, I will be keeping my eyes open for a suitable mentor, bearing in mind the excellent advice that Teri Switzer and Priscilla Shontz give.


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