Jerry Novack | Mentor & Educator

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The Impact Of Mentorships On Universities

The professional world is changing, and the field of education is rapidly changing to accommodate it. Universities are adding more degree fields and courses in order to help prepare students for the ever-changing job force. Universities are now beginning to implement mentorship programs to give students a strong professional foundation.

In a report by Purdue and Gallup called “Great Jobs, Great Lives”, results showed that graduates who “felt supported” during college were almost three times as likely to thrive than those who didn’t feel supported. The report defined “feeling supported” as feeling that professors cared and made them excited about learning, as well as having a mentor. Universities are able to monitor that professors care and that they make students excited about learning, but mentorship is fostered outside of the classroom setting.

A mentorship is a relationship between a student and a professional. The student, or mentee, gains knowledge while the mentor gets the opportunity to give some of his or her knowledge to a person who will appreciate it. Mentorship is important to college students’ development because it helps them to form realistic expectations for their careers. Mentorship is important to mentors as well. It gives them an opportunity to teach and speak about themselves. Most people like to talk about themselves.

Alumni enjoy the idea of being mentors. A university alumni association was interviewed, and they stated that they were able to get more than 9,000 alumni to be mentors. It is students who are less willing to seek out the relationship. In that same alumni association, which over 9,000 alumni offered to be mentors, only 100 mentor/mentee connections were facilitated in over a 5 year period.

Another thing to remember is that just because a student is matched with a mentor with a similar career path to the student’s desired path, this does not necessarily mean the relationship will be successful. To guarantee a good match, there is much more that needs to be taken into consideration.

When a student enters this relationship as a mentee, it is important for the student to remember not to treat the mentorship like a job interview. If students believe there is an incentive, they are not able to be their true, authentic selves. If this occurs, the relationship is not able to thrive. This phenomenon was shown through the results of a study conducted in a university’s business school. In a 360 degree assessment, students ranked themselves and their peers on a set of soft skills. This included listening skills, leadership skills, and communication skills. The students ranked their peers lower on the skills when they were told that the report was just for feedback purposes. When the students were told that their reports of their peers, as well as their peers’ reports of them, would affect their grades, they ranked their peers much higher on the skills.

There are a few aspects that are necessary for an effective university mentorship program. One crucial condition is that the mentors are kept engaged. Another is that the students are involved in the process of getting mentors. The students need to understand how to build those relationships so that they can create and build more mentorships in the future. Another key aspect of any successful mentorship program is a system that is in place to fully understand the students and the mentors, and to connect them based on the latest research from mentorship experts. Another crucial aspect of the mentorship is that students are given resources to reach them how to behave in a mentorship. These resources should, in particular, teach students that a mentorship is not a job interview and that they should be their genuine selves when speaking with their mentors.

The concept of mentorship has already taken the professional world by storm, and now it has begun to enter university settings as well. Mentorship programs in colleges will allow students to learn from mentors, and will lead them toward successful and passionate careers.

Echoing the Importance of the Mentor/Mentee Relationship

The mentor/mentee (protégé) relationship, whether corporate or otherwise is a special and powerful bond, which centers on a person of greater experience and knowledge sharing valuable advice and insight with someone with less experience, in order to groom them to succeed in that area of expertise. The precise definition of mentorship is elusive, but what is  inarguable is the relationship structure, which boosts role modeling, communication, career guidance, and/or psychological support.

There are multiple ways to encourage the success of this invaluable relationship, and one way to do this is by respecting the dynamics and boundaries of this relationship, so that realistic goals are set, and the relationship is productive and effective for both parties involved. Understanding the value of others’ time is a large part of that, as well as readiness and being responsible.

Keep the channels of communication open

It’s necessary that those functioning on both sides of mentorship are honest and upfront with what’s expected and what can be accomplished. The mentee should verbalize goals and expected takeaways, while the mentor should help to manage expectations. Also, those in this relationship must make sure they’re demonstrating that they’re active listeners, which is not just critical, it’s rewarding.

Be supportive and dedicate yourself to support

The ability to take pride in the work of a partner is so important. Harvesting a relationship with someone who wants to see you grow, and cares passionately about your career trajectory, is an asset. Having someone aside from yourself dedicated to your growth is invaluable, there’s nothing  quite like having someone tucking you neatly beneath your wing and vice versa. A great mentor will teach “success” habits, such as being organized, which further cements the likelihood of success. A great mentee will accept support and education while remembering that investment into his/her life doesn’t mean that they’re more valuable than anyone else. They, too, must look to support the success others beyond their mentor, including their fellow employees or peers.

Be curious and seek answers

It’s the work of the mentor and mentee to be curious. They should always seek out questions and answers to those questions, the everyone will benefit. Only positive things happen when a person educates him/herself.

Step outside of your comfort zones

Rather than leaning too intently on this two person relationship, look to others who can share new thoughts and ideas. Stepping outside of the box promises personal and professional growth, equipping mentees and mentors with knowledge they otherwise may not have been privy to. This can also open their eyes to the things happening within the industry and other departments as to gain a “big picture view of the world.”

Remember, mentors are present for mentees, but they’re only a guide, mentees should be thirsty to engage in communication with others who can educate them and they should work with their mentor develop a plan of action. Both mentors and mentees should review goals, measure achievement, be responsive, be tactful, be honest, be innovative and creative, demonstrate realizability, and stay positive in the face of feedback.

The Top Qualities of a Great Mentor

If you read my previous blog post, you know I believe that mentors are critical for young professionals to develop their own skill sets and contribute to the real estate field. Once you’ve established your own philosophy and determine the goals you hope to achieve in your work, you can find an ideal mentor.

Mentor and mentee

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Good mentor-mentee relationships are a two way street. Do you remember any of your favorite high school teachers? Your best learning moments occurred when you focused on their classroom instruction but gained insight from your instruction on a personal level. It’s a similar dynamic in the professional world. If you want a good relationship with your mentor, become a good mentee.

Franchise Growth Partners believes a good mentor should be someone who demonstrates these attributes:

A Mentor who still learns for Him/Herself
A good mentor will be a leader in their field who nourishes their own goals and pursuits. Driven by enthusiasm for their work, they should be excited to instruct the next generation of professionals. He/she should continue their development as a professional leader by continuing to learn, as the industry is always growing.

The Two-Way Street
The two way street goes hand-in-hand with being your own mentor. While the mentor should nourish their own professional goals, he/she should also be eager to share his knowledge with a new professional. Furthering the success of mentees furthers the success of the entire profession.

Someone who provides constructive criticism
Mentees need to know what they need to do differently in order to develop as professionals. As a mentor, identify the mentee’s strengths and weaknesses and set challenges accordingly. Depending on how your mentees face these obstacles, provide feedback. In this process, it’s critical to provide a clear and open forum to discuss frustrations. Is your mentee struggling with client relationships? Are they having trouble staying organized? The mentor should be excellent in communicating these obstacles with the mentee. It’s a learning process that will make both parties more empathetic professionals.

Positivity
It sounds like an easy tip to “be positive.” but it’s easy for the everyday working person to become jaded and apathetic in their work. A good mentor won’t be anything like this. Mentees want to be excited by working, and with all of the exciting developments in today’s working world, why shouldn’t they be? Mentors will share this excitement, embracing a positive outlook as their mentees approach traditional skills from the professional. With a charged, enthusiastic outlook in their mentor-mentee relationship, they can implement successful plans and strategies for the field.

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