Women in STEM: Demystifying mentoring and networking
Have you employed a mentor to help you navigate the professional world? Did you find a mentor during a job search or was it during a transition between careers? Whatever the case, your mentor is most likely the person who provided you expert advice and guidance and, if you are lucky, they inspired you along the way too.
As someone who has mentored people at all levels and had the good fortune of being mentored by some incredibly smart and generous people during the course of my career, I feel it is my turn to give back and impart the knowledge and experience which lead me and a couple of high-profile leaders to found Women in Power.
Advancing women in the Electrotechnology industry
Women in Power is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to promote and improve the Electrotechnology industry by the advancement of women within it. The organisation provides a forum for members to meet and exchange information and ideas and to solve industry-problems. The organisation also offers individual members an opportunity to expand personal and business networks, maintain awareness of industry developments, improve skills and knowledge and make a contribution to other women in the industry.
My fellow Women in Power Board members and I see mentoring and networking as an essential leadership skill. In addition to managing and motivating people, it’s also important that we can help others learn, grow and become more effective in their jobs. Mentoring and networking is a critical component to success and an essential element to support career development and progression. Mentoring and networking opportunities allow access to an experienced source of advice and guidance, provides support with problem solving and handling difficult situations, and delivers a non-judgemental and safe place to voice challenges and frustrations. Most importantly, it offers access to resources and networks that would have otherwise been unknown to individuals.
More than just giving advice
I have learned that, while having a mentor is one of the most valuable things you can do in your career, being one can also be a hugely rewarding experience. However, mentorship involves more than just giving career advice. When you are asked to be someone’s mentor, the mentee is actually asking you to champion them and actively help them to grow and succeed. My mentorship experience has proven that mentees want someone to make a personal investment in their professional success and believe in them. To me, being a mentor is a project with tangible results: the success of your mentee.
Anyone can be a mentor; being a good mentor takes time and energy. A good mentor is one that is patient, listens, provides advice and understands what the mentee wants to accomplish. Any advice they give should be clear, without conflict, and transparent. Equally, the mentee must identify their goals and determine what help they need to accomplish them.
Benefits to mentor and mentee
For Women in Power, mentoring and networking partnerships are an enriching experience. It gives each mentor an overall sense of personal satisfaction, knowing that we are helping someone else learn and grow on a professional and personal level. Through mentoring and networking opportunities, participants can expect to enhance confidence and resilience, accelerate career advancement, grow relationships and networks, build their personal brand and profile, increase self-awareness, develop leadership skills and capabilities and improve communication skills.
It is critical that each of us understands the value that mentoring and networking tools provide our career. We must also understand that both being a mentee and mentor require preparation and effort and the investment of time should be seen as an investment in one’s career.