Happy New Mentoring Year
Our priority for this year is recruiting more mentors. To help you decide about joining the team, here are some tips from our own program and others around the world. We’ll be following up with workshops specially for prospective mentors during the summer of 2022.
Be you. You can’t be an expert on everything – just tell us what editing and related skills you can share and we’ll find a mentee who wants just that from their mentor. You may have special skills to share; you may be new to editing but have a special interest in, say, IT and love explaining it; you may have set up an editing business at home – you can share your journey on the business of editing. Just pick what you like to talk about and be yourself.
Be a good listener and communicator. Active listening is important – it helps you to understand your mentee’s goals and prevents misunderstandings. It can be difficult for a mentee to express their goals clearly, but you can help make them manageable. Maybe you can offer a new perspective, or the mentee might have a new angle on a topic. You are a sounding board – give the mentee time to constantly reorganise their thoughts and throw in ideas and questions.
Be prepared to learn. Inevitably, a mentee will come up with a problem of which your knowledge may be sketchy. One of the joys of mentoring is that you learn more and more about your own area of knowledge. As you do your research, you share with your mentee whatever will help them, and you are, at the same time, enhancing your own expertise. A double win!
Be available. Mentoring sessions should suit both mentor and mentee and any activity that may be included: reading, copyediting, networking, for example. Between sessions, the mentee may want to contact you with questions that can’t be kept until the next session. You are a busy editor and might not be able to respond immediately, but let your mentee know that you will answer them as soon as you can. Both partners need to be flexible and willing to revise the schedule.
Be honest. Be honest with a mentee about the standard of their practical activities. Give constructive feedback for improving where necessary, be a guide and a friend but don’t do the work for the mentee. Offer guidance about finding work, if asked, and help them hone their promotional skills, but it’s not your role to find jobs for your mentee.
Be cool, calm and collected. It will rub off on the mentee and you’ll have a happy and productive partnership.
Be careful. Confidentiality is important. Anything discussed in the partnership stays there unless one of you has a serious problem with the way things are going. Your first contact then is your local area Mentoring Coordinator, and that person may then seek advice from the Program Coordinators.
If this has helped, your next step is to write to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for a mentor application form.
Elizabeth Manning Murphy DE and Ted Briggs AE
Joint Chairs, IPEd Mentoring Standing Committee, Program Coordinators