Millennials Don't Own 'Mentoring'

I seem to be offering up a lot of my time lately—for coffee. Beyond what is needed for the copious amounts of coffee I already drink (Yes, Starbucks is loving me right now).

For example, this past month I have "met for coffee" with five different hospitality students who are looking for mentoring as they enter the industry. Seeking advice, tips, knowledge, ways to make additional connections, and insight.

This got me thinking, isn't mentoring just another form of continuing education?

Generally when the word "mentoring" is tossed around, I always get a quick image of a youthful junior individual eagerly listening at the feet of a sage, older individual who is providing wisdom of the world and pontificating about life and lessons learned; while the junior individual listens attentively with full rapture. A true picture of what occurs? Probably not.

Mainly because mentoring is some of this ideal (probably not as grandiose), and so much more. At its basic level, mentoring is another form of continuing education. An individual purposely acquiring knowledge through learning from another. Information once unknown, becomes known. But here is the catch, mentoring isn't just for "youthful junior individuals."

I recently chatted with Shawna Suckow, CMP, founder of SPIN and The Hive Network, on this topic and she elaborated on the idea. According to Suckow, "The sad thing is once you get to be more of a veteran in your career, general consensus is you don't need a mentor. People think mentoring is for the young newcomers, but you can be mentored at any age to fill in the growth gaps you have."

We all reach a point in our career where we think we have learned a lot. And we undoubtedly have. We begin to think it is time for us to now teach those or guide those with less experience on how to work within our industry. Plan meetings. Sell business. And we definitely should do this. But is there still more for us to learn? Yes.

Suckow continues, "There comes a certain time in your career when you have been through all the traditional education—you have to be in charge of creating your own [education] and filling the gaps in your knowledge." Being mentored is one way of doing this.

I have several mentors in my life. Some of whom are older than me, some younger; some with less years of experience, and some with more. And then I have some who are considered my colleagues in both age and experience. Why? Because I continue to learn from them. Each of them in different ways.

From the younger, I learn how to better engage with and understand others their age (they also help me with proper social media protocol). From my fellow peers, I reach out to them for advice when I am conflicted with different situations. From those with more experience, I glean the history behind why things were decided, situations they may have been faced which I am now facing.

The tutelage received by these individuals is valuable, as is the traditional education that I spend larger sums of money for. And hey, for a cup of coffee and a few hours of time, who doesn't mind saving a few bucks?!

Who are your mentors? What do they provide you?

Posted by Larissa J. Schultz, CMP, MHA

Larissa is a writer, author, and professional speaker in the hospitality industry. She is also an adjunct professor at Glendale Community College teaching in the Hospitality and Tourism program.

Follow Larissa on Twitter: @LarissaJSchultz
Visit Larissa's Website: www.ljsmeetingstrategies.com/

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