Mentee Forum


MENTEE FORUM

Mentees in our 2016 Mentoring Learning Partnership Program and our Mentoring Leadership Program were asked to reflect on what they have learned about leadership under seven categories. Here’s what they want to share with you.

MENTEE ADVICE

Leadership
  • I once thought that leadership was about getting others to do things but now I know that true leadership is service to others. Today’s rapidly changing world requires servant leaders who foster collaborative teams. The job of a leader is to bring a team of people together, discover their unique strengths and help them to succeed together…..Julia S
  • I’ve learned that leadership skills don’t come in a standard form. Rather, leadership develops from knowing your values and how you can contribute and make a positive difference. Trusting yourself and becoming your own leader first is an important step to realizing your leadership potential…
    Mary M.
  • Realizing I am a leader because of my actions, not because of my title, was an important discovery. My colleagues respect me because of the person I am and how I treat them. As a result, I have good relationships with the people I work with, which lead to better outcomes when we work together. I could still be an effective ‘leader’ within my organization without listening to others, treating them with respect, empowering them to make decisions, or inspiring them to achieve greatness in their work, but the results wouldn’t be the same.
  • Get involved – step outside of your comfort zone. Put your hand up to do a presentation, speak at a conference etc.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Be the ambassador of your area, the face of your business
  • If you want to move into a leadership stream, continually assess what you can give to the organization then point out why you would be a good leader and what attributes you will bring
Challenges/Mistakes
  • I realize now that nothing great is ever accomplished without taking risks. I always need to ask myself – am I trying to make someone happy or am I trying to make a difference? This helps me as a check-in question. Failure is inevitable. It’s how we learn and change directions. It’s how innovation happens. I’m learning to embrace failure and focus on failing forward…..Julia S
  • Setting goals and having someone help you to be accountable to them will help you push yourself. Make your goals your own, do not get caught in comparing yourself to anybody else’s goals, our paths are different and your career path will be your own.
  • Challenges are good opportunities for growth and learning about who you are. I think it’s important to strike a balance between letting go and accepting you can’t make a change sometimes and pushing your way through challenges other times. Feeling discomfort around challenges and mistakes is natural but it’s also very rewarding when you persevere and get through a difficult time. By doing so you will learn more about yourself and new opportunities can open in unexpected places…Mary M.
  • It’s okay to say “I don’t know” and ask for more information
  • Make time to give yourself permission to think and work on your career
  • Own up to your mistakes and say sorry when you make a mistake and be genuine about it
    Just try it!
  • Be brave and take a step forward, make an information interview appointment, arrange a lunch
  • Mistakes are only stepping stones in the process of learning, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them
  • Make sure you listen and are engaged when you meet with someone, they’re taking time to meet with you and give feedback!
Professional Development
  • We are not all leaders and it is OK not to be a natural leader. One day you might need to be the leader because you know how to do that in your area of knowledge and you will be fine!
  • Pushing your own boundaries and trying things that you may not have tried on your own in an environment where it is ok to try can be the difference between letting fear get in the way of your development or learning to make fear part of your development. Veronica
  • Always try to seek professional development opportunities. If you can’t get it within your job, go outside the office/department/university to get it
  • Find unofficial mentors, usually they will share their experience and give you advice
  • Attend forums/sessions and be on the lookout for nuggets of information, opportunities and insights, in other words, make their own opportunities happen within group parameters
  • Always be open to exposing yourself to new ideas or concepts as you never know what path you’ll end up going down.
  • Make use of what the University offers e.g. ODLC, SCS, tuition waiver etc.
  • Help others so they can help you. Tell those around you what you are looking for. If you don’t know, share something about yourself and listen. They may help you figure out what opportunities are out there that you may not have thought of.
Career Growth
  • Learning my strengths affirmed my areas that I am good at and how to use them to the best of my ability. Knowing your strengths does not mean you are defined by them but knowing them makes you self aware and helps you to understand yourself better.
  • I went into this program thinking I would learn how to be a better employee, which would translate into more opportunities to move up the career ladder. Soon after I started working with my mentor, I realized that that wasn’t necessarily what the program was about, nor was it what I wanted. After my first few meetings, I became aware that I was more interested in my own growth than I was in using this program as a stepping stone. As a result, I refocused my goals and spent the majority of the program looking for ways to better understand my strengths and my motivations, and trying to improve the things that were important to me. While this may or may not result in career growth or a more senior position at the University, I’m very pleased with what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown over the life of this program.
  • Intentionally putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, whether they are information interviews, real interviews or doing presentations etc. really helped my confidence and to learn. It was never easy but, after I was done, I knew I had accomplished/learned something
  • Always look for opportunities to grow, personally, mentally and professionally. It will give you a sense of fulfillment
  • Everyone’s path is different, do not compare and do not feel you are behind. You are right where you need to be.
  • Know your own strengths and be able to articulate them clearly
  • Talk to people about your interests
  • Ask people out for coffee and pick their brains about their experience and career journey
  • Know your priorities and give them space to live. For example, if your family needs you, be there. If you’ve always wanted to learn a new skill, learn it!
  • Identify your natural strengths, things you probably take for granted as personality traits and recognize them as assets in your job. Use them as your roadmap for future roles and a source of confidence.
  • Growth can come from unexpected places. When you push yourself to try something different, you open up the opportunity to learn.
  • Always self-evaluate, self-assess and keep your priorities in mind. Realize some growth is lateral. Love what you do and do what you love!
Credibility
  • Take courses at college or the School of Continuing Studies
  • Seek educational opportunities e.g. USW has educational assistance
  • Complete your M.Ed., you will need this to move up/into management
  • When you meet someone, always treat it like a job interview. Speak in an academic fashion and know yourself e.g. what is your purpose? And what motivates you?
Work-Life Balance
  • You need to have a good family/social support to achieve WLB
  • Important to have WLB because this will change throughout your life
  • Have something outside of work that you love doing, it will keep you sane!
Change
  • Pushing your own boundaries and trying things that you may not have tried on your own in an environment where it is ok to try can be the difference between letting fear get in the way of your development or learning to make fear part of your development. Veronica
  • Change may not happen in the way you anticipate. You are never too old for change
    Don’t be afraid of change
  • Change keeps you sharp and challenges you to grow
  • It’s not always a bad thing, changes bring new opportunities to those who are open/accepting. Changes often make us uncomfortable BUT that’s where the growth happens
  • Don’t be afraid of change, it is good to put yourself out there and step out of your boundaries
    Pushing your own boundaries and trying things that you may not have tried on your own in an environment where it is ok to try can be the difference between letting fear get in the way of your development or learning to make fear part of your development. Veronica
  • Change may not happen in the way you anticipate. You are never too old for change
    Don’t be afraid of change
  • Change keeps you sharp and challenges you to grow
  • It’s not always a bad thing, changes bring new opportunities to those who are open/accepting. Changes often make us uncomfortable BUT that’s where the growth happens
  • Don’t be afraid of change, it is good to put yourself out there and step out of your boundaries
Relationships
  • The best advice I’ve had about relationships at U of T is that It is a culture of influence. Now I take time to build your network and get involved in the community…..Julia S
  • Be patient with yourself and others; it takes time to develop relationships and build trust. I believe it’s important to be empathetic towards others and try to understand their point of view, their values, and what motivates them. Look for solutions to a problem and make an honest effort to try to meet the person halfway. Your efforts may not always be successful but your integrity and character will very likely have a positive influence on the situation and those around you…Mary M.
  • My advice from being in this program is to be proactive in arranging informational interviews with U of T employees. I do wish I had started this activity sooner, however, in line with a mentee comment in this forum, it does take time to get your bearings and come to understand what you’d like to learn in this one year, that sets you up for future conversations about your career, possible pathways at U of T, work-life balance topics, and so forth. In particular, seek out individuals who may have been involved in the mentoring program as, in my case, they modelled the skills we are developing to conduct our own interview of this type. Prepare by using the Mentoring Toolkit resources as these prompts can guide you in ensuring you address key areas – review them in advance of your interview and then adapt them and make them your own. Cora M.
  • How are you viewed by others? Open to opportunities for growth. Networking is priceless as it helps you reach your goals and get work done
  • Be nice to everyone because you never know who you will be working with and for
  • Do informational interviews, ask people to go out for coffee, most people want to share their experience
  • Building and maintaining relationships is never easy however, the coffee/lunch buddy you meet with on a weekly basis could be the key to your next opportunity
  • Initiate information meetings to get some guidance/advice
  • Do information interviews! People are happy to give you their time. Become comfortable talking to new people. You will improve your interview skills, learn things you would never expect, and find contacts who will help you throughout your career.
  • Volunteer with University committees, you will build new wonderful relationships and learn more about the University