Most of us know what a mentor is, however, only those who have participated in a successful program know the unequivocal value of mentorship. A group mentorship program, such as the one offered by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, is designed with one overarching goal in mind: professional development. Along the way, both mentors and mentees develop skills, find new focus areas, and create a professional network that they can depend on for many years to come.
Mentors find purpose and pride in sharing their years of experience and knowledge with those who are eager to learn. Being a mentor is not a one-way street however. Often mentors will gain insight and new perspective in their own professions, and it provides them with an opportunity to enhance their own skills. Leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills are sharpened when a mentor volunteers their time to help develop the careers of others.
Gary Duncan, the Chamber’s mentorship coordinator, has participated in the mentorship program for several years. Duncan says that mentors played a huge role in his professional development and, “were one of the keys to my success. Sharing those learnings along with my professional and personal experiences with young professionals will hopefully be a positive force on their career success.”
Many mentees have the education and other qualifications for their careers but that does not equate to experience or proficiency. This is where a mentorship program comes in. Joining such a program can pair individuals with an experienced mentor to guide them through uncertain times in the beginning, middle or end of their career. Expanding networks, both professionally and personally will be invaluable at every phase of any career. These relationships can be the foundation for building confidence and self-awareness.
Shakira Rhoads recently joined the Chamber’s mentorship program. When asked about the benefits of participating in such a setting, Rhoads said, “For anyone thinking about joining a mentorship program, do it! I look at it as an investment into myself and my future.”
Most participants seek advice and guidance in their professional development but the intimacy of a good mentorship fortifies a better version of self, if you are willing to put in the work. Rhoads adds, “What I like the most about the program is that it is a positive atmosphere and a judgement-free zone! I know that all of the mentors in this program are participating because they genuinely care about us as individuals.”
Having someone invest their time and knowledge into our development is perhaps, one of the best gifts we can receive.
For more information about the mentorship program visit the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce website.