Following on from Thing 10, where I mentioned mentoring for the CILIP CHartership scheme briefly… but first a little about more informal mentoring.
Two early mentors were one of my first bosses and a consultant who we worked with. Sandra was one of my first bosses in my first permanent post, post-qualification. As well as being my manager she acted as a mentor, encouraging me to take on new roles and projects and responding to my desire to do new and interesting things. She took an interest in my career and professional development as well as in my work-related roles. As an example of how these combined, one initiative I put forward was a service quality survey. I’d read of an initiative at the University of Melbourne using SERVQUAL as a basis (this was before the development of LIBQUAL) and expressed an interest in replicating and adapting this for our own organisation. A few months later I was offered a secondment to carry this our, to also develop a service charter (another idea I’d had) and to work on a interdisciplinary research project with one of our academic departments on an information literacy research project (using Delphi research techniques). It was a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills and develop a sound basis of experience in two key areas that were at that time emerging in the field internationally, but have been key throughout my career since (service quality and information literacy). The secondment also provided the opportunity to write my first professional article (in New Zealand Libraries) and present at an international conference (the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE)) in the US.
The consultant also acted as a mentor in a different way. I’d got to know her through work she did for our organisation, and helped out when she revisited an organisation I had previously carried out a short term contract for. She became someone I could talk to about jobs I was interested in and my future career (not always appropriate topics to discuss with your manager).
In the UK, I was less successful in finding a mentor figure until I embarked on Chartership. In thinking about a mentor I faced two choices about how I approached Chartership. I could have seen it as a bit of a process where all I had to do was tick boxes and do the minimum required (afterall I had lots of professional development and involvement so could have seen this as merely a chance to certify this); or I could make the most of the process to really interrogate myself about my development and future goals. I choose someone who was a Director of Library Services in a university and actively involved in CILIP, and someone I respected at a professional level after hearing her talk at a CPD25 management skills training session. The fact that at the time she wasn’t based in London didn’t worry me as I decided I was prepared to make the effort to travel (and as it was she was often in London and then changed jobs so we often did meet in London). Debby helped me though the Chartership process but as well as that proved to be an able and considered mentor more generally. The mentor relationship is one I especially valued and gained much from.
This relationship in part inspired me to register as a mentor for the CILIP Chartership scheme. I’ve hoped to pass on some at least of the experience I had. More informally I have acted as mentor for a number of new professionals who were graduate trainees or temporary workers at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in their early periods of study, job seeking and early careers. I hope I’ve made a difference for them too. More generally it is something I hope to continue to do both through the chartership scheme and also in my workplace and is something that I intend to discuss at a future management group meeting to explore whether we can do more to develop our staff. And maybe it is time for another mentor for me! Perhaps something to consider as I look towards Fellowship.