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On Being a Mentor

12. August 2016
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As of February this year I have been a mentor at MentorMe, a mentoring program for female students here in Germany. Its founder, Karin, has competely convinced me to become part of her program – without actually having spoken a sinlge word to me in person. I heard a short presentation she held at the first FIELFALT femsemble this winter and I immediatly realized that I had wished for a mentor myself. Several times in my life so far. Someone who could give me valuable advice in working decisions that might have changed my path – and made it easier at times. Of course, I managed well myself and I am very happy about where I am at the moment – but still, a word of advice might have been comforting in troubling times. And these words should not come from a person you are related to.

On Giving Advice and Support

My mentee is a 20 year old (young) Egyptian who came to Berlin two years ago. Her dream was to study in Berlin – she is currently fulfiling that dream. She does have quite a clear vision of what she wants to do. But she sometimes lacks self-confidence. Mostly because she is not a native German speaker and she doesn’t want to make any mistakes. But also because she is young. I keep on telling her that at the age of 20 she can allow herself to make mistakes or to make a wrong decision. It is part of growing up.

During the past months I was her mentor and was able to give her advice based on my experiences. I cannot give her solutions to all her problems or answers to all her questions, but that is not what mentoring is about. I can tell her, what she should consider when taking a decision, I can give her insights into business behaviour here in Germany, I can make suggestions on where she should look for suitable internships and help her with the application. I can be there and support her, when things don’t work out the way she wanted them to. And I can help her close the door and open up a new one. Mentoring is, in my opinion, mostly about sharing experiences and showing your mentee what possibilities there are.

Grow your own (personal) Network

One thing I also consider very important but have not done myself until only recently is real networking. For myself. I only used to do it for the job I was currently working in. But not for myself. For some reason I considered it wrong or not necessary. Only when I became part of the FIELFALT community I started networking and have met so many wonderful and insiring women. I cannot even begin to tell how much I have gained personally from my time at FIELFALT. And I want to share this with my mentee as well. Just give her an idea of how important a good personal network can be – also for work related topics. And, of course, without FIELFALT I might have never met Karin and not become a mentor at MentorMe. 🙂

Being a mentor is incredibly fulflling and I think everyone should become a mentor because you can pass on your knowedge to a young person and you can support him or her in finding her path and dream job. If you live in Germany and want to become a mentor, check out MentorMe – it might be the right program for you as well. Share your knownledge with the young ones. Support them to find their way in this fast paced life and working environment. Become a mentor!

If you don’t see yourself being a mentor – for whatever reasons – you can also support MentorMe with a donation and help them grow. You can donate here!

Bildquelle: © Christina Richter

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