This semester I made the switch from being a mentee to becoming a mentor. For the last two years, I was a mentee in the ESS STEM mentoring program. I have had three different mentors who were all local professionals (two from Sandia National Labs and one for the Air Force Research Laboratory). This year I am still a mentee in the program, but I have decided to also take on the mentor role with the UNM Honors College Pathmaker Mentorship program and ESS Peer Mentorship Program.
There are a lot of differences between being a mentee and being a mentor. I think the main thing which is somewhat intuitive is that when I am a mentor the conversations are no longer about me or my career goals. This seems silly but it is something that I try to keep in mind when I reach out to my mentees. I want them to know I am there for them and I know that what I do isn’t necessarily going to help them reach their career goals.
I think another difference is the frequency and depth of each connection. I normally have 30 minutes to an hour meeting with my mentor at least once a month. With both the peer mentoring programs, the exchanges are at the most monthly and it is primarily via email. I have been asked for advice through Instagram DMs and Discord messages. It is more casual and at times easier to connect.
The largest similarity is that we all are connecting with each other for advice and support. I always enjoy getting to know my new mentors and I similarly love getting to know my mentees. I think in both cases each mentorship is like a professional friendship.
I think that all these programs and both roles are beneficial for me as I continue through school. Some of my mentor’s advice is more relevant as I get closer to entering the workforce and I am able to share some tips and tricks I have picked up over the last two years to share with incoming Lobos. I get to meet more people and make more friends in my campus community. Maybe the greatest advantage of all the programs is that they all provide opportunities for me to stay involved in UNM and stay social during this socially distant time.
I hope you are finding ways to connect, learn, and share advice!