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Mentoring - why?

20 October 14

Ahead of the Society's second career mentoring programme, a mentee's view of the benefits

by Tracy Marshall

What made you want to sign up?

I experienced a “lightbulb” moment around six months ago when I finally realised that working hard and keeping my head down would not allow me to reach my full potential. I decided to take ownership of my own development instead of leaving it to others, or chance. I had heard of mentoring, but was very sceptical and not sure what it actually involved. When I saw the advert for the pilot, I decided to sign up on the assumption that it would either be a great opportunity to accelerate my development and access useful insight or, at the very least, I would have a better idea of what mentoring involved and whether it was right for me.

Do you enjoy it? If so, why?

Yes. It is a rare luxury to have someone give their time over entirely to listening to and helping you. Normally, for example with friends, conversations are two-way and it is polite to enquire after someone else and their life as much as you talk about your own. With mentoring, you do not have to worry about coming across as self-absorbed. I am fortunate to have a fantastic line management team and regular development conversations at work. External mentoring complements the internal conversations, and as the mentor meetings take place outside of work time, the discussions are free from interruptions or time constraints.

What has been the highlight so far?

The initial session was a real highlight. Going from complete sceptic to mentoring devotee in one session was amazing. I arrived at the first session wondering what we would actually talk about. Before I knew it two hours had passed, my mentor had only asked three questions and the floodgates had opened! Apparently this is relatively common, but I was surprised at how quickly I was prepared to open up to a virtual stranger. Getting everything off your chest is very liberating and enabled the subsequent sessions (about an hour) to be much more targeted and focused.

What do you feel you get out of it?

Time to talk through issues and give myself the advice I would give to someone else in a similar position but would probably not find time to think about on my own. The meetings also provide a safe and confidential space away from work where you can be completely open and talk through actions, issues, plans etc. The opportunity to access insight and real-life experience from someone external to the business is a valuable resource and adds an extra dimension beyond regular development conversations and 1-2-1s.

Has it helped your firm/organisation in any way?

Having a mentor has enabled me to deal with situations, change and feedback in a much more constructive and resilient manner. This can only have been of benefit to the business. In addition, if someone else is giving up their time to help you, it forces you to become more disciplined in terms of spending time on your own development. Setting aside time for the monthly discussion as well as the reflection required to prepare for the meeting has allowed me to maintain a better focus on achieving my objectives.

How would you advise someone thinking of it?

Go for it! If you are lucky, it has the potential to be a very valuable gift and either a useful development tool or a safety valve (depending on how you are feeling at the time). There is no real downside – even if the particular mentor/mentee match does not work out, it should still provide an alternative perspective, and sometimes working out what you do not want can be as important as deciding what you do want.

Tracy Marshall is in-house legal counsel at British Gas

Want to be mentored?

The Society is looking for individuals wishing to be mentored, to apply for its career mentoring scheme. It aims to match mentors and mentees, depending on the requirements and experiences of the parties. One mentor will be matched with one mentee and the scheme will run for around 12 months.

The benefits to be gained from being mentored include:

  • receiving impartial advice and encouragement;
  • development of a supportive relationship;
  • assisting with problem solving;
  • improving self-confidence;
  • professional development;
  • increase of network;
  • help with career planning/development.

Who can be mentored?

  • a current Diploma student, trainee or solicitor;
  • a Diploma graduate or qualified solicitor not currently working but keen to establish or return to a career in the profession;
  • individuals able to commit around one hour per month to the mentoring scheme (plus travel to their mentor's base if required).

Want to apply?

To apply to join the scheme, please complete the application form at www.lawscot.org.uk/mentoring and email it to mentoring@lawscot.org.uk. The deadline for applications is 7 November 2014.
To find out more, email mentoring@lawscot.org.uk 

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