In a recent post, , I tell the story of an important mentor in my life. Without her influence throughout university, I would not be who I am today, and she was just one of my mentors. I have been blessed with adults throughout my life, a little further down the road than me, who have invested deeply in my development. They have cared. They have shared their networks with me. They have treated me as someone who would make a difference.
Last night, I was fortunate to catch up with one of my former colleagues. When I met her 10 years ago, she was a couple of years out of university and an obvious gun. In my entire career, I have only hired one person on the spot without checking a single referee. Her. And she did not disappoint. Within a few weeks of her onboarding, I set her up with a mentor, someone who was at the top of her field. As is my custom with those I manage, I had regular meetings with her, helping her reflect on her practice, learn new skills and to take more authority and autonomy in her work. Within three years, she had won an outstanding staff award, the institution’s highest honour. Her work ethic was profound; her attention to detail dazzling. She is definitely one of the best people I have ever hired and I continue to act as her referee and advocate for her career progression.
Having been both mentored by others and an active mentor, I know the students in my care benefit from the nurture a mentor can provide. In my last three colleges, I have led initiatives to connect students with alumni who can invest in them as people, and also share their networks to help students start their careers. At St Hilda’s, we have recently launched Connections, which seeks to connect our second and third years with a career mentor from our alumni/friend community. We are also planning to launch another program, The Edge, to connect our outstanding students with the high-flyers of our community. If you are a potential mentor for our students in either program, please get in touch and email email@example.com
At the end of my favourite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, the character Jimmy Stewart plays receives a vision of what the life of those he has deeply invested in would be like without his care and mentoring. There is a stark contrast in the outcomes of his favourite people if he had not lived. The scene always moves me, as it is a great reminder of my own purpose in this world – to nurture and invest in those around me, to share my time and networks and help them develop into their best selves. What an incredible privilege this role is for me.