Media consultant, trainee plumber and Creative Access mentor, Rebecca Fenton gives us the lowdown on how both mentees and mentors can get the most out of a mentoring partnership…
What’s your brief career history?
I am a senior media professional with wide-ranging content development experience in marketing, project management and executive production spanning the worlds of audio, digital, tech (Amazon: Audible), TV (All3Media: Lime Pictures) and publishing (Worldreader).
What would you say are three components that help a mentee to be prepared for a mentor session?
– Be as honest and open as you feel comfortable being
As a mentee, sharing insights into your career, personality type, professional and personal ambitions and even factors like your wage bracket and age can be helpful for a mentor to best guide you and share relevant anecdotes and experience. Openness in a safe environment such as mentoring with a Creative Access appointed contact can also engender a mutual trust that can be nurtured throughout the sessions and potentially beyond.
– Ask for what you want (respectfully)
If you have specific aims, ambitions or questions for your mentor – or if you are looking for specific introductions or advice in any given sector – be clear in terms of what you would ideally like to get out of the working relationship. Work with your mentor to map out steps towards your goals and requests. A mentor may not always be able to provide everything a mentee asks for, though the adage is true: ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’. You may be surprised where your focus and assertiveness takes you.
– Be on time!
It may sound obvious but remember that your mentor is a busy person too and is giving their time and expertise for free. Strive to show mutual respect by logging on or showing up on time or a few minutes early, so that your mentor isn’t kept waiting and doesn’t have to chase things up. Travel delays inevitably occasionally happen, though overall, punctuality goes a long way – both in your working relationship with your mentor and beyond in your wider professional life. It is also a plus if you take the initiative to schedule any Zoom meetings or meeting places where possible. Many mentors may be time-poor and will appreciate it, so by doing this you can get stuck straight into your sessions and make the most out of them.
What did you get out of mentoring?
I find mentoring most rewarding when I see growth in confidence, understanding and professional opportunities in the mentees that I work with. I come from a modest background with no family members or contacts who worked in media; I could not afford to complete unpaid internships and was not coached educationally in public speaking or self-promotion, so I had to work my way up and work out many things for myself. Thankfully I have garnered support and tips from official and unofficial mentors, bosses and colleagues along the way.
I personally found the transition from middle to senior management one of the trickiest to understand and navigate. By working with mentees who are looking to make this same move and sharing my experiences (including the peaks and pitfalls) with them, I can ensure that they are best informed at this pivotal professional juncture.
What do you believe your mentee got out of it?
My first mentee came to me with a list of professional and life aims and goals that she was aiming for and by the end of our 6 months, she had achieved all of them! This is hugely due to her capabilities and expertise, though I was pleased to work with her in approaching these goals in a calm, organised and strategic manner to help her manage stress and prioritisation at a time that was a real state of flux for her on both the work and home front. She recently shared with me that almost a year after our mentoring relationship, she now considers me a friend, which I take as the highest compliment.
Have you had a mentor yourself at mid-senior level? How did that help you accelerate your career further?
I have had a few mentors over the years and have learned that some mentor/mentee relationships tend to find you if they are meant to, alongside official mentoring programmes and schemes. The mentors that I had around the time that I was mid-senior level in my career reminded me to slow down, not to be too hard on myself, to not be too impatient or presumptive, to consider my options and to focus on the important things. And without fail, all of them always emphasised that no job or career move is worth sacrificing your health or mental health over – something that many mid-level candidates may be in danger of doing in order to feel that they must prove themselves.
I am pleased to be part of Creative Access’ mentoring program to emphasise to my mentees that there is another way – that life and
/work balance is possible and should even be aimed for as a core career goal.
Feeling inspired to help someone accelerate their career? Sign up to become a Creative Access mentor here.
Looking for a mentor? If you’re not already signed up with us, do so here. Creative Access runs several opportunities for mentor matching across the year, so keep an eye on our opportunities board as well as on our socials for upcoming mentorship programmes…