Each January, during National Mentoring Month, we are presented a chance to reflect on mentoring—what it means to be a mentor and how mentors have helped us learn and grow. I’ve shared my own experiences as both a mentor and mentee on here before. As a mentor, I’ve been fortunate to have had the chance to help others acclimate to a new environment and find their way through their own career path. I didn’t know I was viewed as a mentor until each “mentee” wrote to me years later to thank me for being a mentor to them.
The sense of purpose each of these random notes brought is the type of benefit mentors commonly report as why they choose to mentor others. If you note from my examples, you might not have “mentor” as an official title, but bear in mind, someone may see you in this light.
As a mentee, I’ve benefited in uncountable ways from mentors—official and unofficial. Whether it was getting a boost of confidence, being introduced to new professional opportunities, or being challenged when I needed it the most, mentors have helped me learn and grow as an individual and professional.
I continue to reach out to my mentor network as I journey through my career. When I transitioned from being a Postdoctoral Appointee to the Postdoctoral Program Coordinator almost eight years ago, there was a steep learning curve. My Division Director at the time thought it would be useful to connect with mentors who had taken similar career paths. That’s when I met Katie Carrado-Gregar, Associate Division Director for CNM User Programs & Operations. Katie helped me gain a broad view of the Laboratory and learn how to communicate with people across the career and leadership spectrum. I also learned how to find value in my work and manage the “identity crisis” one goes through when moving from a research to a management role. While we have not established formal mentoring meetings, I still call on her from time to time for advice and guidance.
On January 31st, National Mentoring Month will come to a close with Thank Your Mentor Day and I encourage everyone to reflect on their mentoring experiences and thank their mentors. One way to do this is to give them a shout out on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) using the hashtag #ThankYourMentor.
This could be a photo with you and your mentor holding a #ThankYourMentor sign. Justin Breaux, Argonne’s Digital Social Media Producer with the Communications and Public Affairs organization, has offered to take photos and help get them promoted. If you are interested, talk to your mentor and let us know when Justin can come by and snap a photo.
Here are a few other ideas to thank your mentor:
- Send your mentor a nice, handwritten thank you note
- Offer your mentor a cup of coffee and share what you’ve learned from them
- Write a recommendation for your mentor on LinkedIn
- Stop by their office and just say, “Thanks!”
- Pay it forward by mentoring someone else
There are so many small gestures that mean a lot in letting someone know you value their mentorship. Choose one and let everyone know what a great mentor you have!
Lastly, there will be Meaningful Mentoring Workshop focused on setting expectations and assessing understanding on January 31st. See details and registration information on Argonne Today.