Making a Successful Mentor from Arizona's CSO's
Mentoring today is essential for achievement beyond average accomplishments and can be applied to any area of one’s life. A successful mentoring engagement relies on the effort that both the mentor and mentee put forth. At it’s best, a mentorship can be an incredible and rewarding experience that continues to give for years and years. I’ve found the most important characteristics of a successful mentor include a strong sense of commitment; willingness to share their experience; and the ability to give constructive feedback while also providing encouragement and fostering self-belief.
A personal experience in a successful mentorship was with one of my many outstanding mentors whom I encountered after striving to become more involved with STEM in my community. I will first start by saying that this rewarding mentorship could not have been successful without my - the mentee's - action toward seeking guidance, and my curiosity of improving STEM education. It falls on the mentee to take the first step; without the desire to learn, a mentorship will not be fulfilling for either party. However, once my interest was displayed, a plethora of mentors and fellow mentees presented themselves. I came across one mentor, in particular, Susan Farretta, that through her words and actions encouraged my abilities, and even expected me to accomplish great things. It is her encouragement and her commitment to teaching me her knowledge that makes her an extraordinary mentor. Good communication is as equally imperative in making a mentorship effective, which allows for discussion about enriching and stimulating topics and clarity of direction. Being willing to take risks, being totally committed at times, and putting in the effort to build a cooperative and personal relationship makes a successful mentor.
I was able to get where I am today due to mentors’ help, advice, and guidance; and it is likely the same for you too. Mentorship is a two-way relationship between a mentor and mentee. It is often misunderstood as an older individual teaching a younger apprentice in a work trade.
While this is the stereotype, this isn’t always the case. Mentorship is important for all walks of life, but it is especially important for the STEM fields. I have been on both sides of the fence, being a mentee most of the time, but more recently becoming a mentor through the Chief Science Officer (CSO) program where I can advocate for STEM in my school and community, as well as help students get the opportunities they deserve.
Being a mentee is a special experience, seeing as I can learn mainly new things in a hands-on manner. I also have the ability to build a relationship with someone as devoted to a topic as I am, which means I am not just learning from a book or class (which can sometimes be really boring!). In a mentor-mentee bond, the relationship is vital to the impacts and benefits that each will walk away with. For it to be successful for me as the mentee, I must walk away with knowledge I couldn’t have gained elsewhere; meaning that I learned some kind of tribal knowledge unique to the topic. And as for being the mentor, I need to walk away with some sort of new understanding on how to be a better mentor the next time around.
Overall, I believe that the most important thing to make sure to implement in this mentor-mentee time is that it can be ensured that both parties are able to walk away knowing that they were benefitted in a positive way. As I have experienced firsthand, mentorship in the STEM fields gives individuals the opportunity to learn from the best and also get the help they need in order to succeed!