The word mentor as a noun means to be an experienced and trusted adviser or as a verb to advise or train. The Media Mentor is about combining both, specifically for those wishing to progress their career. There are some good mentoring schemes out there, such as with the John Schofield Trust and these should be explored. The focus is early careers, where a lot of advice and guidance is needed.
But mentoring has also become a fashionable word for companies in the industry to use, as they look to show staff that they will develop talent and nurture them. This is often by placing them with someone more experienced. Sadly, much of the time, this is about look rather than substance. The reality is often disappointing. Staff are too busy to invest in the process and the mentoring value is diminished. There are also issues around honesty and being unbiased when dealing with colleagues. Is someone in your organisation truly neutral? Probably not.
The same can be said for partners, family and friends. Gauging opinion on the right thing to do with regards your career is a minefield of self-interest. What is often needed is frank and honest insight into your circumstances. Sometimes that means being told what you do not want to hear. Mentoring is about support, but it is also about improvement and pushing someone to that next step. Often after a session a client will tell me they feel a sudden bounce in their step and a renewed confidence and vigour.
The help I provide works alongside the more supportive role I play. You may want your CV improved, or may struggle with writing covering letters. These two things are areas I focus on, as they are, of course, vital parts of the application process. There could also be advice on interview technique or even sessions when we conduct a dummy interview to help you improve your confidence. Another practical area I work on is voice coaching, helping to make you feel more assured on air.
Mentoring can mean much more than these skills focused sessions and it will depend on where you are with your career. We have graduates and early career people ask for help but also those more advanced with their media career or looking to change paths. Clients can come to me unsure of what it is they want to do next. We can discuss choices to make, both with work and home life. Mentoring means being empathetic to a client’s demands across the spectrum. I need to understand why you might struggle to find the time to do the things I want you to do. But in return, the client knows I will push. A two-way relationship is essential.
In the last few years many clients have progressed their careers after a consultation, which is hugely satisfying. People gain confidence and focus, understand the right direction and right type of jobs to go for. Often though, the process goes far beyond media or career advice and practical guidance. I have had clients in tears needing support; not needing a bit of direction for a job application but wanting and appreciating a shoulder to cry on and having someone calm and reassuring at a time of crisis.
This is when the service works differently for different people. If you simply want to improve your chances of getting a job, a review of your CV and cover letters will be hugely valuable. The process sees you paying a fee for that meeting and then feedback on the changes afterwards. But increasingly clients are asking for a bit more of a continuous relationship, where I am available for chats and advice more often. I have several clients who choose to pay monthly for this service and find it hugely valuable.
For those asking about how the media mentor can help, I do hope this answers some (if not all) of the questions. If you’d like to ask more or would like a quote, please drop me a line.
I look forward to hearing from you.