Mentoring. It’s the game changing word which is rippling through institutions, universities, and local communities. It’s also a notion which is gaining traction at a pace faster than ever before.
As a concept, mentoring has always existed. The practice of forming a trusting relationship between two parties to share advice, information, knowledge and skills is one which occurs informally and spontaneously around the world. However, the dynamics of a mentoring relationship are continuing to develop.
Three key factors are currently disrupting the time-old notion of mentoring and ushering in a new age of connected, technology dependent, time-efficient and interdisciplinary mentoring.
The rise of video conferencing technology such as Skype, Google Hangouts and Facetime are enabling mentoring to take place across previously unreachable geographical boundaries. Technology has helped to further the globalization of mentoring, and the breaking down of barriers in organisations that have employees situated throughout the world.
Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is one organization taking advantage of the benefits of technology to open up doors globally. With the introduction of their remote mentoring program, experienced engineers are encouraged to spend time via Skype to assist young Timorese engineers. Ultimately, this global mentoring is enabling EWB to contribute to the development of critical engineering capacity within Timor Leste.
The practice of mentoring is also increasingly becoming formally recognized. For truly valuable and constructive change to take place, informal mentoring is being replaced by that of the support and structure provided by a mentoring program. Not only does this allow mentoring to take place over an extended timeframe, it provides the valuable insight of a third party facilitator whose role enables monitoring and feedback on the mentorship development. Mentoring programs allow individuals to achieve tangible results and be empowered to reach their goals in a sustainable way.
The role of cross-discipline engagement is growing in importance in academia and even the corporate environment and this trend is continuing to infuse into mentorships. As a tool, interdisciplinary mentorships of the future will help produce synergy in groups and assist individuals to generate multifocal ideas. Moreover, the input of an interdisciplinary mentorship will provide an individual with a broader and more holistic perspective on their career trajectory.
Despite these global trends, mentorships of the future will always remain centered on the interaction between individuals. At its core, this simple process has the power to transform individuals. But not only does this impact the mentee and the mentor – it strengthens ties between communities, institutions and organizations. This is the power of mentoring.