For the past couple of years Golin has supported the Taylor Bennett Foundation by providing mentors to our alumni. These are important relationships. When you’re embarking on your career it’s crucial to have someone who cares, and has relevant experience, to bounce ideas off. The graduates like having someone to help guide their career and the mentors, we hope, enjoy sharing their experiences and giving something back to more junior people in the industry. So what makes a good mentor?
- Established boundaries
The best mentors have been those who established boundaries from the outset. Ensuring their mentees know how often they will be available and what help they may be able to offer has been crucial. There must be enthusiasm for the relationship – people who volunteer for the task are much more engaged than those who are strong-armed into it.
- Being a good example.
If you can’t get to a meeting on time, or reply to an email in a reasonable timeframe you can’t expect that your mentee will manage it.
It’s also important that they are generous with their knowledge and skills and share them freely. Mentors who cling to their networks fiercely should look at why they are giving their time to their mentee. Making useful introductions is one of the most life-changing things a mentor can do.
- Giving feedback
Providing constructive feedback is one of the most important tasks of a mentor and sometimes that’s no easy task. It can be uncomfortable to tell someone their personal hygiene needs addressing, but if it’s stopping them from getting a job then it’s the mentor’s responsibility to raise it. Of course not all feedback is that difficult and giving tips on CVs, interviews and handling difficult colleagues are much more common. Mentors can help entry-level practitioners polish up their professionalism and being approachable and friendly is vital.
- Setting goals
Being able to set goals is a sign of professional maturity. Being able to set them and achieve them is a sign of drive and determination. Being able to give examples of how you have achieved goals is a powerful, motivating, tool and can provide a framework for career development for a mentee. Mentors can also help more senior practitioners think more strategically and aim for bigger things.
Sarah Stimson is the Programme Director at Taylor Bennett Foundation, a charity dedicated to addressing the lack of diversity in PR with traineeships for BAME graduates. She is also the founder and editor of the careers advice website PRcareers.co.uk, runs Facebook’s largest PR recruitment group PR Job Watch and is the author of How to get a job in PR.