Why You Should Get Involved with AFSA’s Mentor Program
Mentorship is overflowing with benefits for both the mentor and mentee. Mentorship relationships are customizable and look different from person to person. The process doesn’t have to be a dry “check-the-box” style approach, but can rather look however you want it to. The beauty of mentor/mentee relationships lies in the fact that you can tailor them to fit your individual needs, available time, and preferred relationship style comfortably.
The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) has empowered its young professional group the NextGen Initiative (NGI) to create a mentoring program, which aims to pair young people in the industry with more established industry experts. This program is intended to nurture the industry’s next generation of talent by offering guidance to those seeking to launch their careers by introducing them to like-minded professionals.
For Mentors As a mentor, you may think mentoring will be all giving and no receiving, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! While you will be offering your knowledge and experience, most likely, mentorship is still a two-way street. Mentees can provide you with a fresh perspective, and help to expand yourself personally and professionally. A few of the benefits of having a mentee are:
- Shape the leaders of tomorrow As a mentor, you have a hands-on impact in creating the future that you want to see. Help to shape the leaders of tomorrow with the needs of today in mind.
- Work hard, feel good In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we all hope to be able to reach out to help others, but the reality is we can’t always find the time. Mentoring provides an easy in-industry way to impact the lives of those around you for the better.
- Enhancing your leadership skills Whether it just be someone outside of your organization or someone with a completely different communication style than your established norm, mentoring encourages mentors to learn new and effective ways of communication to work with many different types of people.
- Gain new perspectives Working with the next generation can often offer insights you may not previously have considered, and they may even be able to teach you a new thing or two. With fresh education and new minds approaching problems comes fresh perspectives and new ideas you may not have considered.
- Improve your productivity You may think that mentorship sounds like a lot of giving of your time, but it’s quite the opposite. Mentoring increases your productivity by helping to put you in the right mindset to tackle your work and streamline your productivity with all that new knowledge and perspective your mentee can help provide.
- Mentors offer an outside perspective on situations Whether it’s a problem you’re facing, a situation you’ve never encountered before, or even something that has you worried, mentors are great for offering an outside perspective on something you may be too close to, to think about objectively. For example, if things are always done a certain way at your office, but could be done more efficiently, maybe a mentor can help identify these situations and help you be your best, most productive self.
- Mentors stimulate professional growth Mentors help us to see and present the best sides of ourselves. This is another place where their outside perspective can come in handy. Helping to spot opportunities before we spot them ourselves, or making valuable introductions and expanding your professional (and sometimes personal) networks.
- Mentors have invaluable experience Having trouble with a problem while getting started? It’s likely your mentor at some point has run into that exact same problem. They can offer advice coming from a place of experience or tap some of their colleagues who may be able to help offer a helpful solution. This can be a huge benefit with any-thing from personal problems, to obtaining certifications and everything in between.
How About Mentees? Mentees, it is important for you to take note of the ways that it is possible for you to impact your mentor, but what can they do for you? The short answer is lots. Here’s a list of some of the biggest impacts having a mentor can have on you as a mentee:
- Mentors can be connectors Your mentor has had time to expand their professional network, and that can come in handy in many ways for you. Whether you just want to consult with someone outside of your network on a project, or you’re looking for new opportunities, mentors are a great way to expand your network.
- Mentors will cheer you on Your mentor wants to see you succeed. When it’s hard to cheer for our-selves, a mentor is a great resource. The same way you will give your mentor time and energy to work harder and smarter, they’ll cheer for you and your continued success.
There is a final bonus incentive for both mentors and mentees that is worth mentioning with this program. Pairs will be matched up from different memberships, giving both mentors and mentees the opportunity to connect with someone across the country and expand their knowledge and understanding of how other companies work out of their direct competition area.
So, has your interest been sparked in participating in AFSA’s Mentor Program either as a mentor or a mentee? If so, you can sign up today at www.firesprinkler.org/mentor. However, if you’re still unsure if mentoring is for you and would like to get a little more information on the program (or even if you’ve already registered to participate) be sure to register for AFSA’s NGI kick-off “Mentor Mixer” on Wednesday, October 2 at the conclusion of “NextGen Day” at AFSA38 in San Diego, California. Details and information on how to sign-up to either mentor or be mentored are posted to the group’s website.