Mentee or Mentor, That is the Question

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]I began my career in marketing in 2008. Having graduated with a degree in Information Technology Management, this wasn’t the career path that I expected to follow, but as it does for so many others, I was guided down a different path and never looked back.
Marketing is one of the many careers, where people tend to get better with experience. Since it relies on skills like creative thinking and persuasion, there are only so many courses that one can take to further develop their skills. As such, Mentorship plays a huge role in this industry – and I attribute much of my career development to my experiences with Mentorship.
Search for a definition of Mentorship online and you’ll find a number of complicated responses. Simply put, MENTORSHIP IS A RELATIONSHIP IN WHICH A PERSON WITH EXPERIENCE (THE MENTOR) OFFERS ADVICE, GUIDANCE OR KNOWLEDGE TO SOMEONE WITH LESS EXPERIENCE (THE MENTEE)
I’ve been fortunate to have some great formal and informal mentors over the years – both through programs within the companies that I’ve worked for as well as through professional organizations like the AMA > Toronto.
Through these relationships, I have gotten advice on how to advance my career, how to be better at what I do, how to be a better leader and some general life lessons. These experiences have been invaluable to my career.
The benefits of Mentorship don’t stop there… participating in a Mentorship program can lead to increased rates of productivity, job promotion, salary increases, confidence and job satisfaction.
On the flip side, becoming a Mentor is one of the easiest ways that someone with experience can “give back” and help themselves at the same time. Not only does it feel good to know that you’re helping someone out, in a strong Mentor/Mentee relationship both parties are learning from each other.
So now that you’re interested, how do you get started?
If you’re currently employed, find out if your company either offers an internal Mentorship program or if they’ll cover the cost for you to participate in an outside Mentorship program. From there, reach out to relevant industry associations and see if they offer formal programs. As a last resort, do some outreach on networking platforms like LinkedIn.
You would be surprised how many people are happy to donate some time for a virtual chat to share their experience. I’ve been on both sides of the table, having both reached out to leaders in my industry that I admire and would love to learn from as well as offering up my time to people that have reached out to me. In a time when COVID-19 has left many of us struggling emotionally as it relates to employment, a conversation with a stranger can have a huge positive impact. It can also be the start of a long-term friendship (as the saying goes, a stranger is just a friend that you haven’t met yet).
Ok – we’ve discussed the benefits of Mentorship and how to get started. Now let’s cover the ground rules. Mentorship is about a mutually beneficial relationship where ideas, advice and knowledge are exchanged.

Some rules to follow:

· Your Mentor is not a therapist. Keep your conversation focused on your goals and how to best achieve them
· Your Mentor is not a ticket to a job. Although Mentorship can lead to career opportunities, the Mentor’s role is to offer guidance
· Own the Process. To get the most from your time, do your Mentor a favour and own the process. Book the meetings, take notes and share them, and make it easy on your Mentor to spend time with you.
· Determine a frequency for meetings. Leaving space between meetings allows time to reflect on your last conversation, to work towards goals and to think up new discussion topics. Monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly are good examples of a meeting schedule.
· Set goals. What do you want to accomplish through these meetings? Review your goals and you progress at each meeting
· Prepare your Mentor. Reach out in advance of your meeting with a review of the last meeting’s discussions and any topics that you want to discuss. If your Mentor has an idea of what to expect, they’ll
· Be respectful! Remember that someone is volunteering their time to help you. This is a gift!
Engaging in a Mentor / Mentee relationship can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both parties. My Mentors have helped me get to a place in my life and career where I feel fulfilled and that I have a sense of direction. As a Mentor, I love meeting new people and knowing that my experience is helping them on their own journeys.

Ethan Zon is the Senior Director of Strategy at Influence Marketing. He is a Mentor in the AMA > Toronto’s Career Accelerator Program and occasionally guest lectures at various post-secondary institutions.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]