Mentorship and Career Advancement
- Recognize the value of mentorship and try to find your potential mentor.
When was the first time you developed your resume? Do the skills or knowledge you trumpeted on that resume look different from those on your recent resume?
Have you wondered what your resume would look like in 5 years?
In today’s labor market, job requirements are changing so dramatically that they are forcing workers to become “continuous learners” (Geremia, 2018). Sometimes, it is hard to stay motivated with “continuous learning.” . Also, you may not know where to start to continue your learning in your field.
The best way to spark your continuous learning is to surround yourself with people who will challenge you to do so – mentors! In this section, you will learn why mentorship is important and how you can find great mentors.
The Power of Mentorship
Historically, Indigenous people shared knowledge from one generation to the next orally through stories. Sharing cultural knowledge was also demonstrated with songs, games and group activities. Indigenous wisdom suggests that there are certain things that young people need to survive and flourish; mentoring is one of them (Weinberger, 2006)
Key Benefits of Mentorship
“A mentor is someone who has faith in you and your abilities, especially when you do not, and in doing so, inspires you to reach for your dreams and teach others to reach for their worth and potential” (Alberta Education, 2007)
According to the research findings in Mentoring and Professional Development (ABP BC Strategy, 2013), participants who joined the mentoring program witnessed the following benefits.
- Development of professional knowledge and skills: The majority of participants (82%) reported that mentoring helped them improve their professional knowledge and skills.
- Over 60% suggested that mentoring fostered an environment of continuous learning
- Life skills development: Some participants shared that they were able to develop life skills that were helpful outside of the workforce.
- Expanding connections: Participants also reported that they were able to improve relationships both within and outside of the work environment. Many were able to strengthen their connection to other staff and build their connections outside of the workplace (Elders, family members, and the greater community)
- Staying in the company: Interestingly, two-thirds of participants shared that mentoring opportunities contributed to their sense of belonging to their organization and supported their decision to stay in the organization. Additionally, some participants reported that the mentoring helped them to get a promotion or preferred position
“The deeper the sharing of knowledge, the deeper the responsibility. Mentorship is far greater than just exchanging information. It is about impacting each other’s lives.” (ABP BC Strategy, 2013)
Stories about Mentorship
Let’s listen to Neil Thevarge and James Williams talk about the importance of mentorship.
According to the Handbook for Aboriginal Mentoring (Alberta Education, 2007), there are three different models of mentoring: one on one mentoring; group mentoring; peer to peer mentoring.
- One-on-one: This could be most effective when the mentoring relationship maintains a positive and steady presence in a mentee’s life. This relationship could be equal and more committed to mutual learning and benefit.
- Group: Although the nature of the relationship between the mentor and the mentee in groups tends not to be as strong as one-to-one mentoring, group mentoring can be a particularly effective model for Aboriginal youth because relationships are fundamental to Aboriginal culture. Group settings allow mentors and youth to engage and strengthen their capacity by learning from each other.
- Peer Mentoring: Peer mentors help others develop social and friendship skills, serve as role models, scribes, and study buddies. Peers speak the same “language” and often have similar experiences (Alberta Education, 2007). Peer mentoring is beneficial to young people who are socially marginalized: It helps them develop positive social networks and build self-confidence
How to Find Your Own Mentor
- Decide what you want to learn. First, determine what area(s) you’re looking to grow. Do you want someone who can help you grow your networks or assist you in learning more about your industry or guide you on how to be a successful employee? Clarifying your expectations, goals, and objectives will ensure that you find the right mentor and that the relationship benefits your personal and professional goals.
- Look around your existing network: Great mentors can be found in a variety of places, so try looking both inside and outside of your current workplace. Seek out mentors at business and women’s associations in your area, non-profit organizations, your college or university, within your family, elder groups, or community groups.
- Set up a meeting: Once you’ve identified a potential mentor, ask to meet and discuss a possible mentoring relationship. Meeting with a potential mentor is an important step to make sure that you are both clear on the terms. This meeting should take place somewhere that is mutually comfortable and where you can speak with confidence.
- Create the agreement of engagement: Once you have found someone who you are comfortable with and who agrees to be your mentor, make sure you share the same expectations. Be clear about the time required and the availability of your mentor, and establish a regular meeting schedule with topics you would like to discuss. Decide if you would like to schedule time or keep it flexible, and how you would like to meet and spend your time.
Here is a list of resources to get you started on the path to finding a mentor:
Indigenous Peer to Peer mentorship : information on the peer mentorship program for first year BCIT students
Elders in Residence : Information on Elders who support Indigenous Students at BCIT
YWCA Indigenous Mentorship : Mentorship program for self-identified Indigenous girls, ages 12-18 (mentees)
UNYA Mentoring Program : Mentorship Program for Indigenous youth ages 12 to 15 who want to connect with a role model for advice and support
Indigenous Mentorship Network of the Pacific-Northwest : Mentorship network of Indigenous and allied students, researchers, academics, professionals across British Columbia and the Yukon.
The BC Indigenous Youth Internship Program : 12-month paid internship program for Indigenous British Columbians, ages 19 to 29. This Program was created by the BC Public Service Agency in partnership with the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Indigenous leaders, and Indigenous youth organizations.
Think about the areas you want to grow in, either your personal or career life.
Think about who could be your potential mentors.
In your Action Planning Tool in Appendix A list at least 2 names or particular titles (e.g., Elder, supervisor, etc.) and decide how and when to reach out to them.
Summarize what you’ve learned about mentorship by completing the following two sentences:
Mentorship is powerful as mentors can……………….
I could find a mentor by………………..
- Mentors can help you improve your skills and knowledge, expand your networks, develop a sense of belonging, and support you in advancing in your career
- Finding mentors could be easier than you think! Decide your growth goals and start with people in your network or reach out to the mentoring programs in the community
ABP BC Strategy (2013) Mentorship & Professional Development in the Aboriginal non-profit sector.
Alberta Education (2007). Handbook for Aboriginal mentoring: What. why. how. who? Edmonton, AB: Government of Alberta.
Geremia, S. ( 2015, Apr 26). ‘OK Google, find me a job’: New job search feature launches in Canada. The CTV news.
Weinburger, S. (2006). Strengthening Native Community Commitment Through Mentoring. Department of Housing and Urban Development Native American Program. US.