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Expanding my skills by having a mentor

Gemma Rogers

I’ve recently started seeing a mentor, Louise Miller from the Government Digital Service, and it’s been a great experience. Today is National Mentoring Day, set up to raise awareness and promote the positive benefits of mentoring and I’d definitely recommend it.

Not sure what to expect

I didn’t know what to expect when I was offered a mentor. It’s something I’ve always been interested in but I wasn’t sure how it could help me.

Before we met I tried to jot down ideas of what I wanted to get out of it. But I really struggled with this. I kept thinking about the big existential questions like, what am I doing with my life? Or what do I want the future to hold?

What we do

In our first session, Louise and I broke down my big questions into manageable goals I wanted to achieve. After lots of questions and post-it notes, we worked out that I had two goals. One was the transition to working in a large organisation. The other was making the most of the opportunities at Parliament. I realise now I already knew these were my goals for the next few months. I just didn’t know what steps I needed to take to achieve them.

We then broke down my goals even further. Now they’re bite-size objectives I can work towards. For example, Louise mentioned that shadowing colleagues might be a good thing to do. So I’ve contacted people I want to shadow and am looking forward to finding out about their roles and what I can learn.

My mentoring with Louise is structured which I really like. We have a Trello board that has my goals on it and outlines what I’m doing on individual tasks. Louise has also been really good at sharing opportunities and events with me so I can develop outside of our mentoring sessions.

What my mentor thinks

Louise Miller

I asked Louise what she thought about mentoring someone. She told me:

“I used to have a mentor myself and found it an incredibly valuable way of building my skills and confidence when I was going through a period of transition in my career.

When you're mentoring, you explore a different side of leadership to line managing. I really enjoy the freedom to explore ideas and coach the person you're mentoring. Sharing my knowledge and experience with somebody else also helps me validate what I know. It can feel like a challenge to carve out the time but it’s well worth it.”

Thinking about my career in a different way

Working with a mentor has given me the opportunity to think about my career in a different way. It’s helped me unravel how I want to develop, what I need to do to get there, and what things stop me from being able to do this.

I’m hugely thankful for the experience and perhaps one day I can support someone else by mentoring them.

Read more about mentoring at PDS

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