As an appropriate next level of my career trajectory of becoming an appointed Press Officer, I have been seeking mentorship from a unique set of Foreign Service professionals, and leaders in the Press and Think Tank industries. These relationships I have been seeking were to not only be around someone who was sharper in my field, but to develop a bond with someone with the common interest of the fields and places that I see my best fit.
On my own journey of finding the perfect mentor, I have been ignored, neglected, and dodged by whom I perceived would be the best folks in their respective feels. This left me feeling like I had to figure it all out on my own with no support or assistance from those who have opened doors, walked paths, and paved a way for brothers like myself to make an impact in the world and blaze new trails.
Although I found a hard time pinning down a great mentor, I was asked to become a mentor for the incoming freshmen class this summer at Morehouse College. Last week, I completed my first week of training with a cohort of Residential Mentors and Teaching Assistants for the PreFreshmen Summer Enrichment Program (PSEP) for the incoming class of 2020. Over the past week, I have developed a bond with over seventy participants giving special attention to ten exceptional young men who have been charged to develop in their intended majors of Business Administration under my mentorship.
A Whole New World
When faced with the opportunity to step outside of my familiar role as a colleague for this group of incoming college students, I found that, most simply put, mentorship is not easy. It requires a level of patience, understanding, trust and boundaries to foster the bond that is ultimately beneficial to both parties. In my work, I have learned that there are several ways to develop these bonds, and my goal is to share them with those who have ultimately avoided mentorship because of the very fact that they may not know how.
Create a Connection
The first week of my mentoring life-cycle has been creating a connection with my incoming mentees to build rapport and foster an on-going relationship within their time with me as a mentor. This period was comprised of meeting each of my mentees for the first time. Within this period, I took time getting familiar with their names, their personalities, and even how they look and dress.
Creating this type of connection with them has been a pertinent factor in getting to know each of them at the individual level. In this period we explored our mutual interests and used that intersection as a foundation to continue building our relationship.
Establishing A Bond
This was also a very vital period to develop and solidify my trust with each of the mentees. In this case, trust to me came in the form of transparency, consistency, and authenticity. I built a framework for an open-minded relationship with each of them, with an understanding of how fragile trust can be, especially at this point.
With consistency, I have set the tone and provided clear expectations for my group to uphold, and hold each other accountable for. Remaining authentic, I refrained from immediately hiding or pulling back certain faults or flaws from my group, because it is appropriate to set the appropriate expectations, and with that, set the expectation of imperfection.
Create a Charge for Improvement
The most powerful type of mentoring relationship is one in which a mentor is able to use their strengths to supplement the weaknesses of their mentee. This part of the mentoring session required me to undertake a huge emphasis on discovering my own personal strengths and identifying opportunities to use those strengths to uplift and build on those of my mentees.
Upon my training, I completed the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment to get an idea of the unique sets of strengths that I possess that could serve as an asset to my mentees. Taking pride in my results, I found a number of ways to implement my thematic strengths to enhance the mentoring relationship that would ultimately benefit the mentees the most.
Making It Last
Another way that to create a charge for improvement with a mentee is exploring each of their interests, goals, and ambitions. This is perhaps one of my best parts of a mentoring relationship because this is also when you are able to provide resources to achieve each of their visions or at least get to a point of execution.
The biggest challenge I have met in my mentoring relationship thus far would be fighting the urge to impose goals onto my mentees, as I want to allow them to find themselves for themselves. Although the journey of taking on mentorship is a new experience for me, I maintain a very high level of enthusiasm that I expect to carry through our relationships moving forward. Week one is done, but the program has only begun! Stay tuned for more updates throughout the program and follow me to stay up to date on what's in store.