How To Be A Good Mentor

Whether you are a PressPad mentor or have just taken a young journalist under your wing, mentoring can be very rewarding and can last far longer than the short internship. Best mentoring advice will come from your own experience. E.g. what do you wish someone had told you at the start of your career? Be it advice about juggling being a parent with your journalism career or how to go about asking for pay rises etc.

Take a minute to think about the best mentor you’ve ever had.

This doesn’t have to be someone at work, although it certainly could be. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes: It can be a manager, a colleague, a parent, a friend, a coach, a university tutor… anyone who’s been a particularly excellent advisor at some point in your life.

At its core, being a mentor is being a trusted advisor. It can mean a lot of different things, but it all boils down to making yourself available to support and advise someone when they need it, delivering that support in a way that makes sense to them, and always, always keeping that person’s best interests in mind.

A mentor/mentee relationship can last for years, or it can last one coffee date. When you mentor someone long-term, you really get to know and understand their personality, learning style, and goals, which can set you up to offer richer, more relevant advice over time.

But mentorship doesn’t have to be long-term. It can also be a one-off or short-term relationship, like when someone needs help working through a specific problem — such as a career transition or a problem with a manager.

  • Take the time to find out what the intern‘s dreams/ambitions are.
  • Can you put them in touch with someone who can help them?
  • Help them draft emails asking people who may be able to help them to meet for a coffee and chat.
  • Explain how they should write to ask for help and how to get the most out of having a coffee with someone.
  • Take time to have a look at the intern’s CV – this is an area that you may be able to offer help. Are they over or under selling themselves? You could help them write up their London internship for their CV.
  • If a mentee is struggling with a piece of work do not just do it for them – instead take the time to help and advise them.
  • Remember that the intern is with you to gain work experience in London – it is a fantastic and important opportunity for them and they may want to spend their evening quietly – rather than non-stop partying.
  • Give the intern advice about how to get the best out of their placement. If this is their first experience of journalism in a workplace they may not appreciate the importance of keeping a notebook (paper or computer files)
  • Advise them on keeping a decisions notebook as well as a diary and advise them on organising contacts from day one.
  • Help them develop good working practices such as sending brief emails after each meeting so that everyone is clear about what has been decided.
  • Do not over promise.