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President's Message: Announcing STC Carolina's mentoring service
2003, Q1 (June 22, 2007)
By Meredith Blackwelder

Mentoring is a way for more experienced technical communicators to share their experiences with new or less experienced protégés. Are you an experienced technical communicator with some time to help others in your field? Are you learning the ropes and need the assistance of a knowledgeable professional? If you answered "Yes" to either of those questions, our new mentoring program is for you! Starting in February, the Carolina Chapter provided a mentoring service to all of its members.

A mentor acts as a trusted counselor, or guide, who assists the mentored protégé in setting and achieving goals for developing career direction and skills.

By participating in a mentor-protégé relationship, mentors develop valuable skills that can further their personal and professional development as well. The relationship between mentor and protégé requires honesty, openness, commitment, and effort by both individuals.

How does it work?

If you wish to contact a mentor, please browse the Mentor Directory (http://www.stc-carolina.org/about/mentor_directory.shtml) for a mentor with the qualifications that meet your needs, and make contact using the phone number or e-mail address provided at the end of the mentor's listing. The mentors listed in the directory have volunteered two hours per month for mentoring. If you contact a mentor who is already working with another person and does not have time to take on a new protégé, the mentor will let you know.

Please understand that mentors are working professionals and do not have unlimited time. If you want to work with a specific mentor who is already working with someone else, ask that mentor to keep your name and let you know when he or she becomes available. Please work with only one mentor at a time, so that mentor resources are available to as many members as possible.

If, as an experienced STC member, you'd like to sign up to be a mentor, please complete the Mentor Application Form (http://www.stc-carolina.org/about/mentorapp.shtml).

In a mentoring relationship, mentor and protégé:
  • Identify objectives, goals, and developmental needs.
  • Define and establish a plan to accomplish protégé goals.
  • Meet regularly in person or via phone or e-mail to review and evaluate progress.

What are the benefits?

A successful mentoring relationship benefits those involved through increased confidence and a sense of direction. The relationship provides a risk-free learning environment in which to offer career guidance.

Mentoring is not:
  • Casual advice
  • Necessarily for everyone
  • On-the-job training
  • A guarantee of a successful career

To get the most out of the relationship, mentors and protégés need to understand their roles in the mentor program. A mentor serves as a role model, offering penalty-free advice and counsel and providing candid feedback to the protégé.

In all mentoring relationships, mentors can:
  • Suggest methods for advancing a protégé's growth and offer résumé assistance and long-term career guidance
  • Provide lists of relevant books and Web resources and introduce their protégés to some of the jargon of the trade
  • Point out STC Society-level and chapter-level benefits
  • Discuss training and educational opportunities

Mentors who participate in a mentoring relationship:
  • Gain personal satisfaction from helping others discover and reach their potential
  • Gain exposure to new perspectives from the protégé
  • Expand professional networks
  • Enhance coaching, feedback, and leadership skills

The success of a mentoring relationship is often based on what the protégé wants to achieve from it. The protégé should:
  • Ask questions
  • Listen
  • Share ongoing career planning and development
  • Be open to the mentor's suggestions
  • Keep the lines of communication open with his or her mentor

Protégés who participate in a mentoring relationship:
  • Develop networks
  • Have valuable sounding boards
  • Receive career guidance
  • Increase their visibility
  • Learn to adapt to changing professional and organizational circumstances
  • Develop or enhance skills needed to move forward in their careers

Although a mentor can suggest growth opportunities and career guidance, the protégé is ultimately responsible for his or her own career development. Because each individual learns and absorbs information at a different rate, the length of time the mentoring relationship lasts depends on the individuals involved. Therefore, each mentor and protégé must determine how long the mentoring relationship should continue. Some relationships last for years.

This article was adapted from the STC Carolina Chapter's Mentoring Guidelines located at http://www.stc-carolina.org/about/mentoring.shtml. End of article.

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