I’d worked with both a mentor and a coach in the past and found those opportunities incredibly valuable. I’d also provided informal support to colleagues working part time after maternity leave. Having had experience of both having a mentor and working part time at a senior level, I thought I might have something to offer to others. My main concern was whether I would be able to provide the kind of support which my mentee was looking for.
It really is a pleasure to mentor Crossing Thresholds participants. They are enthusiastic, committed, energetic and talented women. And it is obvious that they find the programme both challenging and inspiring. Hearing about the issues they want to address, and doing what I can to support them, is very rewarding.
I’ve mentored women from three different organisations so far – one of whom got a promotion before the end of the programme. Reflecting on those experiences, my advice would be to grab the opportunities which CT gives you with both hands. You really have to prioritise yourself - set time aside to do some thinking and planning after the CT modules and before the mentoring sessions. You won’t get the most out of the programme if you cancel sessions, or never get around to your action plan - like updating your CV or following up contacts.
To new mentors, I’d suggest allowing enough time at the first session to get to know each other; try to find a relaxed venue. Encourage your mentee to email the week before sessions saying what they want to discuss. Get dates in diaries for the year at the start; but be ready to be flexible about extra meetings or phone calls when your mentee is dealing with job applications and interviews.