Become a BSAS Mentor!
What is it?
Mentoring is a system of semi-structured guidance whereby one person shares their knowledge, skills and experience to assist others to progress in their own lives and careers. Mentors need to be accessible and prepared to offer help - within agreed bounds.
Mentors very often have their own mentors, and in turn their mentees might wish to ‘give something back’ and become mentors themselves - it's a chain for ‘passing on’ good practice so that the benefits can be widely spread.
Mentoring can be a short-term arrangement until the original reason for the partnership is fulfilled (or ceases), or it can last many years.
Mentoring is more than ‘giving advice’, or passing on what your experience was in a particular area or situation. It's about motivating and empowering the other person to identify their own issues and goals, and helping them to find ways of resolving or reaching them - not by doing it for them, or expecting them to ‘do it the way I did it’, but by understanding and respecting different ways of working.
Mentoring is not counselling or therapy - though the mentor may help the mentee to access more specialised avenues of help if it becomes apparent that this would be the best way forward.
What's in it for you?
- Being able to change/achieve your goals more quickly and effectively than working alone
- Building a network of expertise to draw on can benefit both yourself and others
- Mentoring is voluntary but extremely rewarding, and can benefit your own skills development and career progression
- You need to be the sort of person who wants others to succeed, and have or can develop the skills needed to support them
What makes a good mentor?
- If you are interested in becoming a mentor, check yourself against this list:
- Are you interested in helping others to succeed - even if they may surpass you in achievement?
- Are you reliable, honest, and trustworthy to keep things confidential?
- Are you capable of active listening - not interrupting, picking up important cues from what someone says, able to reflect back the relevant issues and check understanding, minimising assumptions and prejudices?
- Are you empathetic - can you convey understanding of their experience without saying ‘yes me too’ and launching into anecdotes of your own?
- Are you able to question someone sensitively but empoweringly to help them explore their own issues?
- Can you pass on your knowledge and expertise clearly, encouragingly and helpfully?
It is important to structure your mentoring partnership
- Agree when the mentor relationship will start/end: three months would be a reasonable length of time but it could be shorter or longer. You can extend the relationship if you both wish or just continue as friends. Agree how often, how and how long you'll meet: e.g. 20 minutes, once a week for coffee, by video call or phone.
- Agree whether it is ok to be phoned up or called on if the person you are mentoring has a particular question. Since part of the role is to reassure, it is a good idea to agree to this initially and re-negotiate if it gets out of hand.
- Agree that you will not disclose to anyone else what you discuss with the person you are mentoring unless with their agreement. Agree how you will describe the partnership to others, including the head of institution if they ask.
- You are not responsible for the person you are mentoring. But you can answer questions, allay anxieties and give friendly guidance.
Review and evaluation
- At the end of the arrangement, look back over the time and list what went well and what you might do differently another time. Comment constructively on each other's handling of the role. Let BSAS know if you've enjoyed it or if you haven't enjoyed it and if you would be or would not be prepared to do it again, like to talk it over with us. Give any tips for future mentors or people being mentored.
I am interested in being a Mentor or Mentee (please note the scheme is open to BSAS Members only)
In the first instance, please contact us