January is National Mentoring Month! National Mentoring Month is an annual celebration originally established by MENTOR in 2002 to advocate for mentorship and educate on its benefits and the effects that it can have on an individual. During this month, individuals are encouraged to participate in mentorship activities and expand their mentorship experience as a way to promote positive change.
Mentorship has been shown to benefit professionals in many ways, particularly within their first years in a career. As a result, many companies have developed internal mentorship programs that new hires can enroll in upon employment. Some benefits of professional mentorship include:
- It allows a new employee to build a professional network within their company faster than can be achieved by the employee alone. Mentors typically know the ins-and-outs of the company and can point new employees to the correct resources needed. This is especially useful in remote employment opportunities when employees do not often meet with colleagues face-to-face.
- It offers regular opportunities for employees to gain constructive feedback on their performance. Be sure to schedule check-in meetings with your mentor to review your progress and understand what is going well and what can be improved as you progress in your career.
- It can lead to streamlined opportunities to advance in your career. Oftentimes, mentors are asked for recommendations to fill new mid- or senior-level positions. Mentees are great candidates for such promotions since mentors are often already familiar with their achievements.
Moreover, the options are endless as to who you can choose to act as your mentor. Most companies will recommend senior employees in your same field as your mentor because they tend to have the most relevant experience to share. However, there is no harm in asking a colleague with fewer years of experience to serve as your mentor; as a more recent hire, they may be able to better resonate with your experiences and provide relevant tips. You could even select a mentor from a different field if you are interested in exploring future positions in other engineering disciplines or if you are interested in leadership and management but want to learn more about the transition requirements.
In fact, your mentor does not have to be within your current company at all. A mentor could be a religious group leader or a member of an organization that you volunteer for, etc. SWE itself offers a Mentor Network for SWE members in order to help develop and facilitate mentorship relationships. Check it out and sign up online: Mentoring – Society of Women Engineers (swe.org)!
In addition, don’t be afraid to give back and act as a mentor yourself. Even as an early-career professional, you may be able to benefit someone else. Maybe there is a new intern on your team who could use some help onboarding. Or maybe there is a senior graduating from your alma mater who is looking for support with job application preparation. Or you can mentor a local SWENext club and help lead hands-on STEM activities with them. You can take any skill or experience you have and create a mentorship opportunity out of it! This is a great opportunity to give back and to begin to develop your leadership skills early in your career.
In addition to general mentorship opportunities, there are five relevant dates that you can participate in during January:
- I Am A Mentor Day on January 7th – Celebrate by sharing your favorite mentor or mentee stories with others.
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on January 16th – Find ways to volunteer as a mentor of a youth group for example.
- International Mentoring Day on January 17th – Check out the MENTOR website to learn how you can become a better mentor.
- Thank Your Mentor Day on January 21st – Give a shoutout to someone who has been a great mentor to you when you were in need of support.
- SWE Mentor Network from January 23rd – February 3rd – Explore SWE’s Mentor Network with this theme: SWE Around the World. Themes are meant to be conversation starters – you can discuss anything with a mentor or mentee.
Be sure to tag #SWEECPAG when celebrating these days on social media, and don’t forget to use #MentoringMonth and #MentorshipAmplifies! The ECP AG is celebrating National Mentoring month during January through All Together Blog posts and a podcast, and we can’t wait to hear your stories!
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