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Being a mentor involves providing guidance to someone who is new to a given discipline. Mentors normally have a proven record of expertise within a specified field and also possess the ability to convey that knowledge and experience in ways that will resonate with a novice entering that field. While mentoring is a process that goes back many centuries, the 21st century has seen a resurgence in assigning a mentor to people who need to deepen their understanding or appreciation for a trade, art form, or field of employment. If you want to become a mentor, here is what you need to do.
One important aspect of working as a mentor is a thorough understanding and base of knowledge in connection with the discipline in question. Since the main task of being a mentor is to help students of the discipline acquire proficiency, the mentor must serve as a tutor or teacher. During the teaching process, the mentor will educate the student on requirements related to the function of the discipline, supply information about any requirements or qualifications that employers or clients are likely to expect, and in general make sure the student develops into a competent and talented practitioner.
Along with providing information and knowledge in an organized and easy to understand manner, the process to become a mentor also involves knowing when to give advice and when to allow the student to find answers on his or her own. The proficient mentor understands that unanticipated situations can arise in any field of expertise; learning how to correctly apply general principles to a specific situation is an essential part of the mentoring process. By remaining nearby while the student assesses the situation and comes up with a resolution, the mentor creates an environment in which the student can hone his or her skills to the point that they no longer require the services of a mentor.
The basic steps necessary to become a mentor will vary depending on the mentoring environment. For example, adults who wish to become mentors for children usually go through a screening process to ensure they have the skills needed to assist the child. In the workplace, the process to become a mentor normally requires assessment by Human Resources personnel to determine if the individual has the unique blend of knowledge, experience, and teaching ability required to help a recent job hire become a productive employee.
It is also possible to become a mentor in a less formal situation. For example, an individual or family that has recently associated with a particular house of worship may be assigned a mentor to help them settle into the social and spiritual opportunities offered within the congregation. Community mentors may assist people who recently moved into the community to learn their way around, helping them identify where to find essentials such as supermarkets, restaurants, and other points of interest.
In all forms, the process to become a mentor requires a sincere desire to help others and the commitment to follow through with that desire. Without that strong commitment, even people who possess a strong skill set and teaching ability will ultimately not be effective in the task of mentoring.
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