Lyndsey Thomson, Careers & Outreach Coordinator at the Law Society of Scotland, explains how mentoring can help you stick to those New Year resolutions and re-focus your career plans.

It’s the start of a new year and, whilst it hasn’t quite been the start we had hoped for, many of us will have made and already broken (several times!) any resolutions we made on 1 January. Some of these resolutions will undoubtedly have been the same as last year and the year before that and, by the time February begins, everyday life has resumed and any resolutions are far from being our main priorities.

This year is no exception and, with the drastic changes we have experienced in our work and home lives brought on by the pandemic last spring, many of us have put thoughts of career development on hold.

I'm always an optimist though, so why not turn a negative into a positive (no Covid pun intended!)? And what better way to do this than enlisting a mentor for support and guidance through our mentoring scheme?

How mentoring can help you

A mentor can help you to re-focus on the achievable and could make the difference between helping you to realise your goals and objectives or simply putting them off for another year.

A mentoring relationship encourages you to set time aside to work with your mentor to work on you. It's an opportunity to think about where you are now and where you want to be, to identify your strengths and any weaknesses you can work on, to understand the opportunities you can build on, and to set achievable goals and think about how you are going to achieve them.

For some, it might be thinking about securing a traineeship, holiday internship scheme or work experience opportunity. Others may be taking on new responsibilities, adapting to or working through a period of change, or simply seeking to enhance specific skills, such as presentation or networking.

Whatever the goal, a mentee needs to be proactive, motivated and in the pursuit of professional (or personal) development. A mentor won’t reach your goal for you; they are there for support and guidance - to empower you. 

A safe space

Before Covid-19, lockdown and working / studying from home, mentoring relationships tended to focus on the career development side of things.

Whilst these remain extremely important, other functions, such as demonstrating emotional and social support, are especially valuable in these uncertain and challenging times. As well as career goals and ambitions, mentors can acknowledge mentees concerns, validate the situations they are facing currently and any distress they are feeling as a result.

The career development function of mentoring can still continue, however, and a mentor can create a safe space for career-focused conversations, where a mentee can work with their mentor to develop a strategy to not only cope with the current situation, but to thrive.

We may not be able to meet in offices or coffee shops for mentoring sessions at the moment, but we have an abundance of tech solutions at our mercy, including a whole host of video conferencing platforms. But we can also pick up the phone and have a good old-fashioned telephone conversation (helping to reduce ‘Zoom fatigue’) and if you happen to live locally to your mentor you can meet for a socially distanced ‘walk and talk’ session!

Whether you are a LLB or DPLP student or graduate, and registered as a Student Associate member of the Society (it's free to join!), why not consider signing up to our Career Development Mentoring Scheme as a mentee today and make 2021 a year to remember – for all the right reasons!

Our career mentoring scheme

We run a successful career mentoring scheme, which supports those hoping to advance their legal careers. Find our about becoming a mentor or a mentee.

Find out more about being a mentee

People look for a mentor for a variety of reasons and it's not just those starting their career. It can be about career development, or about gaining confidence more generally.

Become a student associate

Our free scheme for aspiring solicitors, to access careers advice, insights from the profession and opportunities to volunteer with us.