In movies, the mentor is often depicted as a wise old sage, stroking their beard and dispensing with pithy adages and stern warnings. “Wax on, wax off”, Mr. Miyagi implored. “Do or do not – there is no try”, said Yoda.
But in real life, mentors don’t often take the shape of wise old men shut away from society. They are, in fact, the women and men working in any given industry who have enough experience and specialized knowledge that they feel comfortable tutoring, encouraging and monitoring the progress of the next generation.
Mentorship definitely matters, both to the mentor and the mentee. It is an age-old form of torch bearing that ensures the continuation and advancement of fields of knowledge and creativity. And, crucially, it gives everyone, regardless of what station they were born into, the chance to learn and flourish.
This post will touch briefly on a few of the key reasons why mentorship matters, and why, if you consider yourself experienced in your flied, you should consider mentoring.
A Direct Transfer of Knowledge
Textbooks, lectures and how-to videos will only get you so far, but they often neglect (or are oblivious to) the real-world demands of an industry. A textbook might tell you what a script supervisor does, for instance, but only a mentor can help you get info about jobs in media and entertainment industry that will set you on a script supervisor career path.
Helping Realize Potential
An experienced industry professional knows what their industry needs. They know what skills, mindsets, philosophies and work ethics are required to achieve success, and as such they are in a prime position to help tease out a mentees potential. Say a mentee wanted to break into sales, and they showed promise communicating with clients but lacked the negotiating skills to close a deal – a mentor could help them realize their potential by working on their weak spots.
Developing Skills In a Safe Environment
Working off that prior point, one of the key benefits of mentorship is that it allows mentees to develop in a safe environment. In a large office, big construction site or huge movie set, people new to an industry can feel like their voice goes unheard, swallowed up amid the hubbub of work demands. The one-on-one mentor relationship slows things down, ensuring that newcomers can have their questions and concerns answered directly, allowing them to more effectively develop skills.
Serving Underprivileged Communities
As mentioned, a unique benefit of mentorship is that it levels out an inequitable playing field. A young person of affluence who wants to write the next great American novel can simply attend a good university, learn from a reputable professor and spend leisurely hours reading novels and critical theory. Someone from an underprivileged community, however, might not get the same opportunities, although their capacity for greatness is the exact same. This is where mentorship can make a real difference, as it doesn’t rely on money or status in the same way a formal education can.
If you want to learn about an industry in which you are interested, regardless of your experience level or station in life, seeking out mentorship can help you achieve your dreams. If you are experienced in your industry and want the satisfaction and fulfillment of helping the next generation, look into joining a mentorship program. It might make all the difference to someone.