All the cool kids have a mentor. Why don’t I?Posted: August 15, 2011
Mentoring has been a buzzword in my life for at least the last six years. I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with a mentoring organization, and my current employer is spearheading a statewide mentoring initiative. Of course, these experiences mostly focus on adults mentoring young people, rather than professional mentoring as is the focus of Thing 11. Even so, I feel as though I have developed an appreciation for the potential value of mentoring, and I’ve certainly seen positive results.
So why haven’t I ever had a formal mentor myself?
I can think of a couple reasons:
- My independent streak. For better or worse, I often find it difficult to ask for help. I like to think I can learn what I need to do a good job without inconveniencing other people. I’m not afraid to ask questions when I don’t know an answer, but specifically seeking personal/professional guidance can be tough for me. It’s awkward to be so open about strengths, weaknesses, concerns, ambitions, etc. Remember how I said I was better with information problems than emotion problems?
- My nichelessness. As I mentioned in my first post, I’m still not sure what type of librarian I’m going to be. A part of me thinks it might be nice to have someone I could bounce ideas around with, but the rest of me still feels like I need to figure it out for myself. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation, really. Which comes first: career direction or a mentor?
I didn’t say they were good reasons.
While I’m not quite ready to formally ask anyone to be my mentor, I do plan to continue building my network of informal mentors. I’ve made valuable connections through active participation in cpd23 and increased engagement on Twitter. I’m improving my in-person networking skills, partially because of these online experiences.
Blogging may soften my independent streak, as I learn to practice self-awareness in a public forum. And I hope all of the reading, networking, and reflection will help me find my niche. If I find a formal mentor along the way, great! If not, I know my fellow librarians excel at advice-giving and knowledge-sharing, so I’ll settle for their collective wisdom.