Written by Natalie Tarling, Careers Mentoring Officer
The term ‘mentoring’ has its origins in the literature of ancient Greece. Homer, in his epic ‘The Odyssey’, recounted the story of Odysseus who was away from home for 20 years. In his absence, Telemachus, the baby son he left behind, grew up under the supervision of Mentor, an old and trusted friend. When Athena decided that it was time to complete the education of the young boy, she visited him disguised as Mentor and guided his experience of learning about the life and adventures of his father. Today, the term ‘mentor’ is used for anyone who is more knowledgeable and has a positive and guiding influence on other people, especially younger ones.
From ancient Greece to the University of Reading
From Homer’s Greece to the world of work of today, the term has evolved, but it has kept its core meaning. At the University of Reading, there are a few schemes designed to bring together students with knowledgeable mentors; take a look at STaR Mentoring – they train current Reading students to help freshers with their start at Reading.
In regard to career development, mentoring is something that has been on the horizon for a while now, but you may have noticed it is becoming increasingly popular. Large firms and businesses recognise the value of mentoring much more and use it as a tool to enable staff promotion, leadership and growth; it isn’t only Reading students who are getting involved.
What is mentoring and why you should get involved
Mentoring is a relationship between two people where one person is, typically, more experienced and in a position where they can shed light on a situation and use their experience to impart knowledge to their protégé. What comes of a mentoring relationship is up to the mentee. In your case, as a student, it might be that you’re looking for guidance on how to successfully secure a placement or what you would like to learn about life after graduation.
Asking questions of your mentor will not only provide the opportunity for you to learn but may result in doors being opened as well… as long as you are asking the right questions!
For instance, getting to know a THRIVE mentor will not only help you gain skills and confidence but can also result in some really valuable work experience through a connection you would not have made without getting involved.
Mentoring can open many doors, but for that to happen it is important that you are open to the idea first!
Take a look at what THRIVE mentoring can offer on www.reading.ac.uk/thrive and prepare to grow!