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Mentoring for career development



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Mentoring for career development
Ann Rolfe
entoring Works, Umina Beach, Australia
Korean J Med Educ 2017 Jun; 29(2): 117-119.
eISSN: 2005-7288
The Korean Society of Medical Education. All rights reserved.
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Many mentoring programs are aimed at assisting
participants with career management but just how can a
mentor help? This article gives some activities to assist
with career development conversations.
Career management involves assessing the current
situation and making informed decisions about the
future. It requires reflection (thoughtful assessment of
yourself and your situation) and action (deliberate
movement toward selected goals). You can do this alone;
however, a trusted confidante who can skilfully listen
and question, may elicit insights that may otherwise
remain unavailable. A mentors own experience may add
perspective, can offer an opinion, and may provide extra
information and access to resources. Finally, a mentor
means not having to go it alone on the career journey.
1. Assessing the current reality
Take a good look at yourself and where you are in life
and your career.
A detailed conversation with a mentor will help you to
get clear about what you like and dislike about:
(1) Your job content: Are you doing what you enjoy
and what you are good at in the work tasks,
activities, role, and responsibilities?
(2) The work environment: Do the people, physical
surroundings, and organisational culture bring out
your best? Is the field you work in something you
(3) Work/life: How does work impact on how you
want to live life? Does it match your personal
values and goals?
A personal stock-take is in order. A mentor will ask:
(1) What knowledge, skills, experience, and other
strengths and career assets have you?
(2) What interests and motivates you?
(3) In terms of your personality, are you a people
person who wants to help or serve, a fix-it type,
in to technology, machines, and tools? Are you in
love with ideas or happier working with solid
data? Is your nature inquisitive, driven by the
quest for knowledge or is your preference artistic
(4) What values and beliefs guide your priorities right
(5) What personal considerations, such as relation -
ships, finances, family, health, education, and
other commitments, need to be taken into account
in your decision making?
Having assessed the current reality, it is time to
imagine future possibilities. The value of the mentor
earlier was their ability to stimulate introspection and
examination of the present; now the mentor encourages
Ann Rolfe : Mentoring for career development
Korean J Med Educ 2017 Jun; 29(2): 117-119.
looking outward and contemplating future prospects.
Creativity, optimism, and good information are vital at
this stage so that you can entertain many possibilities
before you set more specific goals.
2. Identify the ideal occupation
It is not uncommon to target a particular job as a
career goal. However, that can be limiting and distract
you from other possibilities that may be equally, or
more, satisfying. It also sets up a win-lose situation, OK
if you win the job you want but what if you miss out?
Many people tie their sense of self-worth to career
achievement. Therefore self-esteem, motivation, and
performance can take a nosedive as a result of perceived
failure. Finally, fixing on a particular job is pro-
blematic because the rapid rate of change in the world
of work means radical shifts occur almost overnight. Old
jobs disappear and new occupations emerge. There are
those that say job titles are themselves obsolete. While
there will always be plenty of work to do, it will not
come in neat little packages that can be easily labelled
with a job title.
As an alternative to a goal such as I want to be a
or I want job xyz try defining the ideal occupation
using the exercise below and make it your aim.
Id like to work where
(1) I am able to use my preferred knowledge, skills,
and experience of
(2) In a field that matches my interests in
(3) So that I can contribute to the goals of my
employer by
(1) I am working toward my personal/career goals of
(2) My work satisfies my needs/wants to
(3) My employment does not compromise my values of
(4) I work with people who
(5) I work in an environment where
(6) The intrinsic rewards of my work are:
(7) The extrinsic rewards of my work are:
Share your responses with your mentor. Compare the
ideal that you have described with current reality.
Discuss what is working well for you right now and how
you might close the gaps between what you have and
what you would like.
3. Making informed decisions
Now you are ready to explore and evaluate the many
possibilities you generated earlier. You will need to
research them, separating fact from speculation and
opinion. Gather data from a variety of reliable sources.
Narrow down the list of possibilities to a few options
that appear to align with your ideal occupation and allow
you to set a general direction for your actions. The
mentor acts as a facilitator of the inward looking
self-assessment and the outward looking exploration of
options before assisting you to develop plans and
identify the resources you need to implement them. This
is a practical phase where the mentor is a collaborator
and creativity, combined with pragmatism is used to
generate and evaluate various strategies.
4. The mentoring conversation
The mentor facilitates this kind of career planning by
leading a conversation based on four questions (Fig. 1)
(1) Where are you now?
(2) Where do you want to be?
(3) How might you get there? And, as the mentoree
starts to act on their plan,
(4) How are you doing?
The aim of the mentoring conversation is to enable the
mentoree to reflect on their experience and take stock,
make informed decisions about their options, set goals,
plan, and then implement appropriate actions.
Ann Rolfe : Mentoring for career development
Fig. 1. Mentoring Conversation
From Rolfe A. Mentoring guide. Kincumber South, Australia: Mentoring Works; 2007 [1].
The mentor has at least three alternatives for generat-
ing information as a basis for decision-making:
(1) Draw ideas from the mentoree and help them use
their existing knowledge;
(2) Assist the mentoree to find and access other
reliable sources; or,
(3) Offer information and advice based on personal
knowledge and experience.
Because mentoring is an adult-to-adult process, the
mentor is a guide and an aid to the mentorees decision-
making. The mentor does not dictate to, or direct, the
mentoree. The mentor can offer suggestions, relate their
own experience, or offer ideas. The mentor can also use
skilful questioning to enhance the analysis of informa-
tion and identify faulty logic.
The mentoring conversation is a practical demonstra-
tion of a problem solving and decision-making process
that can be applied in any situation. So mentoring assists
with immediate needs and equips the mentoree to deal
with future issues. As the saying goes Give a person a
fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person how to
fish and they can feed themselves for a lifetime. This is
particularly important because career planning is not a
one-off event. Career management is an ongoing cycle
of reflection and action and life-long learning and
growth. In the context of careers, change is the only
constant. We are living longer, with better health and
activity levels and often have whats been labelled
encore careers in our senior years. The need for
meaningful work (paid or unpaid) is intrinsic. So, career
planning and development is something you may expect
to do again and again. The assistance of a mentor is a
bonus. Mentoring others stimulates thinking about ones
own potential, possibilities, and opportunities.
1. Rolfe A. Mentoring guide. Kincumber South, Australia:
Mentoring Works; 2007.
... This indicated that there should be comparison between the time spent at work and your family or on your own. The work-life balance differs in individuals because of the presence of a variety of priorities and different lives, and state of an individual (Rolfe, 2017). For instance, the right balance for the individual at 20 years (single) will be different at 34 years (married) or even with kids in the family. ...
... It also affects individuals when they begin a new career or even when planning for retirement as well as finance, education and health. However, effectiveness of work-life balance is a dependant of achievement, performance, motivation, optimismand enjoyment (Rolfe, 2017). Both CD and W/LB are forcing functions of mentoring programs for women and men in all professions, most especially biomedical professions in developing countries (Carpenter, O'Neal & Bakken, 2012). ...
... Next, determine better ways a mentor can assist to address the challenges. Finally, devise several means of working between the mentor and mentees (Rolfe, 2017). This could be achieved through mentoring interactions and conversation, executing a project together, and most effective and least effective in decision making with constructive feedback as reported by researchers (Rolfe, 2017;Warnock, 2006;Lewis et al, 2017). ...
Full-text available
The socioeconomic , technological and emotional imbalance remains an issue of individual growth in career development and work-life balance. The impact of mentoring programs for sustainable career development and work and lifestyle balance in biomedical professions was examined. Career development was studied using self-assessment, career awareness, performance, skill acquisition, goal setting and work-life style balance. Career development can be achieved with pleasure if the essential routes were addressed by the parties involved in mentoring programs. Proffered solution of organizational support, social support, use of modern facilities and self-assessment were recommended as tools for mentoring programs that reduced pain, depression, friction and wear, and emotional stress of mentors and mentees. Thus, provide an outstanding strength of social, economic, technological and emotional output as well as good healthy conditions for career development and stable work-lifestyle to achieve a set goal and target in biomedical engineering profession based on action plans.
Mentoring guide. Kincumber South, Australia: Mentoring Works
  • A Rolfe
Rolfe A. Mentoring guide. Kincumber South, Australia: Mentoring Works; 2007.