Being a Professional Mentor
Mentoring provides an important contribution to the Professional Development of a younger or less experienced colleague, the mentor advising and providing support in this development in order to progress and manage career progression and in many cases professional recognition, most frequently for Registration with the Engineering Council (EngC) as a Chartered or Incorporated Engineer.
Sources of Information
The most readily available useful sources covering Professional Development in general and mentoring in particular are:
For an overall treatment: The Professional Development Partnership- PD How2 (www.pd-how2.org)
For the specific objective of registration with the Engineering Council (EngC): The standard UK-SPEC (www.engc.org.uk).
Most professional bodies provide details on the specific details and operation of mentoring arrangements, many specifically aimed at registration with the EngC. Some however restrict this information to members or provide it through training courses. A good example of guidance on the roles of mentors and mentees is available from the Institution of Engineering Technology (IET) (www.iet.org).
Definition of Terms
The names of the various roles of providing career support and guidance can be confusing and in many cases are used interchangeably.
Advisors: Give overall advice and guidance on career development and options, education and training requirements, progression routes and opportunities in current role and location and in other fields. An advisor is likely to be a manager or senior person in same company, experienced person in professional body, or similar personal contact. There is not necessarily any formal arrangement involved.
Mentors: Defined as a ‘suitably experienced person who is willing and able to act as a confidential helper and guide to another professional (the mentee), to stimulate their development and make it more effective’. A mentor provides regular and continuing advice, guidance, help and review of career development based on their knowledge and experience and contacts. They also give advice on the requirements and development of competence, and, for registration with the EngC, the preparation of their application and demonstration of competence. Would normally be a person in the same company (but not a line manager of the person being mentored), either a close colleague, a colleague within the same discipline or the same professional institution that the person intends to progress through. In larger companies may be a nominated person for specific employee roles, disciplines or professional bodies. The activity is planned and there is normally a ‘formal’ agreement defining the scope.
Coach: Often used synonymously with mentor however a coach is more likely to have a direct working relationship wheras the mentoring relationship is preferably separate from day to day or line management arrangements.
Sponsors: A person who supports the person by confirming that the appropriate level of competence and experience has been achieved and that the supporting evidence can be verified. Sponsors include the roles of proposer, seconder, or referee for the specific of applying for positions or professional recognition.
Proposer: A proposer is normally the first signatory on applications. Must be familiar with the subject and can vouch for their overall suitability to apply and meet the criteria required. Often requires specific qualifications or experience.
Seconder: The second signatory on applications, otherwise as proposer.
Referee: In the context of Registration with the EngC a person who vouches for the parts of the career history and responsibilities in cases where the proposer and seconder are not able to do this.
Supporter: -Any other person providing support to, or representing, the person in progressing their career development or applications.
What SaRS can provide
Advice: General advice and guidance on requirements for progression through membership and registration through general guidance on the website and specific guidance through the office, the Membership and Registration Committees, or members with specific relevant knowledge.
Mentoring: SaRS does not have a formal mentoring programme as the level of membership is insufficient to be able to identify suitable mentors in all of the disciplines, industries or locations members operate. In specific cases however suitable contacts may be identified or be approached to assist with identifying a suitable member. Branches can provide the opportunity to make contact with those who may be able to assist.
In the specific case of registration with EngC SaRS can advise on the requirements, process and procedures and guiding an applicant through the process by advising on the experience, roles and responsibilities indicated by the UK-SPEC requirements, assessing applications and evidence at all stages of development, producing general guidance and supporting the Professional Review and Interview through the joint agreement with the Society of Environmental Engineers (SEE).
All Other Roles: SaRS may be able to suggest a member who can provide any of these roles where the subject cannot identify a suitable person.