Mentorship can happen in many forms.
It could be a staff member talking shop with a colleague in a different department over coffee or advising a student on their academic options. It might mean inviting a friend to observe a specialized task or talent. Or maybe it’s structured meetings between alumni and students that focus on career goals.
Whatever it looks like, mentorship is beneficial for both mentees and mentors, says Cathy Baillie, Brock University Learning and Organizational Development Specialist, who is hoping to spread awareness of those benefits this January during National Mentoring Month.
“A lot of people think the person receiving the mentoring is the only one who benefits, but the person sharing their experiences also benefits from the mentorship relationship,” she says. “Both the mentor and mentee grow.”
Baillie says some advantages for a mentor include leadership skill development; increased self-confidence and self-awareness; strengthening active listening, coaching and feedback skills; growing one’s personal network; and exposure to new and different perspectives.
Benefits to a mentee include receiving guidance and support; developing networking, goal-setting and self-reflection skills; gaining insight into other industries, roles or experiences; and being encouraged and empowered in personal development.
Mentorship also serves as a way to give back to a community and creates connection with others, which Baillie says is increasing in importance with many Brock employees, alumni and students working and learning remotely.
Director of Alumni Engagement Terry Cockerline says mentoring has always been at the heart of the Brock alumni experience.
“Our alumni have always been supportive of each other and willing to help students and fellow alumni,” he says. “We incorporate mentorship informally or formally at all of our alumni events, and we invite alumni to speak to classes, hire co-op students and meet with students and alumni through our Ten Thousand Coffees platform.”
Mentorship offers students unique insights into professions and expands their industry knowledge, which can help them make decisions about their careers, says Pauline Dawson, Manager, Campus Career Education.
Students can also benefit from peer-to-peer mentoring, she says.
“When students are faced with transition, sometimes they don’t know what questions to ask,” she says. “Peer-to-peer mentoring provides opportunities for senior students to share their stories and talk about personal challenges, successes and triumphs.”
Examples of mentorship opportunities at Brock include:
- Brock Mentorship Program — a structured employee mentorship program facilitated by Human Resources. The next cohort will begin in the fall.
- Ten Thousand Coffees — an online platform connecting Brock alumni with fellow graduates and current students.
- Med Plus, Law Plus, Fit Link, Talent Bridge, Lab Links to Careers and other Career Education opportunities connect students with employers, campus with industry and education with work.
- The Goodman School of Business Alumni-Student Knowledge Exchange connects current students with alumni professionals.
- Student Life and Success have several initiatives involving mentoring. Many are posted on ExperienceBU.
- Engagement Communities Peer Mentors — Led by peer mentors, Engagement Communities brings together small groups of incoming students from similar academic programs and with shared personal interests.
- University Mentorship Program — Led by Brock International for international faculty, staff, students and other scholars interested in professional development or internship opportunities with peers and mentors at Brock.
- The Science Mentorship Program connects senior secondary school students with Brock sciences students.
- Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Mentorship Program — a student mentorship program to guide first-year students’ transition from high school to Brock.
There are also many opportunities to volunteer as mentors with local organizations, such as:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of North and West Niagara
- Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre
- TOES Niagara
Brock faculty, librarians, staff, students and alumni are encouraged to reflect on their own experiences with mentorship and consider mentoring in a way that works for them.
For those who have experienced the benefits of having a mentor, consider participating in ‘Thank Your Mentor Day’ on Sunday, Jan. 30 by posting messages of appreciation on social media with the hashtags #ThankYourMentorDay, #ThankYourMentor, #MentoringAmplifies and/or #MentoringMonth.
For more information on mentorship at Brock, visit the Mentorship Programming SharePoint site to connect with others involved with mentoring. More information on specific mentoring programs can be found by contacting Brock Faculties and departments.