Lyndsey Thomson, our Careers and Outreach Coordinator, discusses the Law Society of Scotland's Career Development Mentoring Scheme and how becoming involved as either a mentee or as a mentor can help your professional development.
It’s the start of a new year and many of us will have made (and already broken!) our resolutions. Most of the resolutions we made will have been the same as last year and the year before and the year before that but by the time we reach February, every-day life has resumed along with its trials and tribulations and our resolutions usually end up being far from our main priorities.
Having, or becoming a mentor, could make the difference between you actually achieving your resolutions this year and them being put on the back burner yet again. A mentoring relationship encourages you to set time aside and work with your mentor or mentee to work on you: think about where you are, where you want to be (and I don’t mean on a beach in the Bahamas), identify your strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities you can build on, set achievable goals and think about how you are going to achieve them.
A mentee needs to be proactive, motivated and in the pursuit of professional (or personal) development. Some mentees might be thinking about moving into a new area of law, trying to secure a traineeship or applying for a promotion. Other mentees may be taking on new responsibilities such as people management, they may be returning to work, working through a period of change or simply seeking to enhance specific skills e.g. presentation or networking.
The role of a mentor is a very rewarding one and our evaluations have shown that having or being a mentor can, and has, helped career development for both the mentee and the mentor. It’s true that being matched with the right mentor can change your life and by having an experienced and trusted person to provide you with support and guidance to enable you to realise your career development goals is priceless.
Anyone can be a mentor and whilst we ask our mentors to attend a training day before approval, there are no pre-requisite qualifications. Mentoring is all about applying the right mix of soft skills, knowledge and experience at the right time to enable the mentee to realise their potential.
Amongst other things, a great mentor:
- Has good interpersonal and listening skills and acts as a sounding board for the mentee’s goals,
- Is committed,
- Delivers feedback and inputs in a constructive and respectful way,
- Is a source of encouragement and support, and
- Challenges their mentee whilst also manages the mentoring relationship and if needed, draws the relationship to a successful end or suggests an alternative mentor
As already mentioned, mentoring can be a rewarding and valuable experience for the mentor too. In ‘reverse mentoring’, mentors will connect with the next generation and can be exposed to the ‘new’ and the ‘next’. You are then effectively, not only passing on your own knowledge and expertise to the mentee but you are also learning from a generation who are connected in very different ways e.g. social media, legal tech etc.
By acting as a mentor you will also develop your own skillset by learning how to engage, teach and communicate with a diverse range of individuals. You will also improve your relevance in the workplace and it’s a great addition to your CV!
Whilst mentoring does require commitment, the results for both the mentor and the mentee can be invaluable so make this year the year that you achieve your resolution and join our mentoring scheme!
Our mentoring scheme is open to both members and future members therefore regardless of whether you are a law student, graduate seeking a traineeship, trainee, solicitor or paralegal – get involved today! Find out more here.