Cultivating quality time with a mentor who can guide you through the crazy steps of life is beneficial not just for the mentee but also for the mentor. Mentoring provides much needed support for those seeking council on life’s difficult decisions, particularly in the field of engineering. Seeking out someone who has maybe been on a similar path and has had to make some of the same difficult decisions helps to make more informed, guided decisions. For the mentor, this partnership often provides a learning opportunity as they are able to reflect upon how they have achieved their current position and even opens up opportunities to learn about new trending technology and skills. Mentoring also provides excellent networking opportunities, especially in transportation.
Walking into the cafeteria on the first day of school can be one of the most intimidating moments of the day, and finding a mentor may sound equally terrifying but, luckily, there are many excellent opportunities to seek out a mentor at the academic and professional level. Being active in one’s field of study and in different organizations provides the most accessible opportunity to connect with a potential mentor. This may include going to club meetings and events. Being open to new experiences and engagements is key to connecting with someone with similar interests as a mentor. When working with a mentor, it’s important to be cognizant and respecting of both party’s time. This may mean designating a set time to meet in person or to simply communicate virtually.
Being a good leader doesn't mean being a merciless tyrant but rather someone who shepherds people towards decisions that benefit the entire group. Vora cites the greatest leadership skill as “self-awareness” and I agree wholeheartedly. Projects are a collaborative effort from many different types of people with different skill sets and different interests, having one person who can organize the situation and recognize weaknesses proves invaluable. Self-awareness provides a keen sense of reflection and brings more focus to the group as a whole. Additionally, leaders must be aware of their strengths as well as other’s strengths. Through this they can direct the group and fill in where certain skills may be lacking or develop alternative methods to compensate. As a leader, it’s invaluable to have the ability to recognize where the group is at currently and to look towards the bigger picture in order to steer the group towards success. Along the way, feedback provides support for the leader as well as for the other members. A group is not successful solely due to a ruthless leader but rather succeeds in the leader’s ability to organize and focus the group.
Growing up in the south, I quickly became aware of word connotations. For example, when someone says, “bless your heart,” it can often be interpreted as “girl, you screwed up.” Knowing the context of the phrase helps to interpret the actual meaning. This tactic is similar to the compliment sandwich described by Meyer where the person providing negative feedback provides some positive feedback with the negative as a general tactic in the US. The compliment serves to soften the blow of the negative feedback much the way “bless your heart” can soften the actual meaning behind those words. Although negative feedback can be difficult to hear, overall it is often helpful in remedying the situation and improving upon bad habits. When providing this feedback, consider the audience and decide the best way to proceed. This may mean that a compliment sandwich would help someone without discouraging them too little or maybe the direct approach is the best way to reach someone. Audience is key. Providing feedback may be difficult to hear in certain situations but when receiving negative feedback consider how it can actually help.