As the Fall semester is underway on many college campuses and the first conference season comes to a close, those in the last year of their degree study are thinking ahead to when they enter the big wide world of competing for their dream job.
Competing for a job has always been a tradition, yet whether the increased connectivity of world news amplifies the story or it is in fact reality, finding a job after graduating is quote an endeavor these days, a daunting one for those soon-to-be-graduates who would just like to hit the snooze button on their wonderful sleepy student years.
So what is the trick then, to landing your dream job upon graduation? The problem is there isn’t just one trick. Many articles have been written on these tips of the trade and one I think isn’t highlighted often enough is the beneficial influence of a mentor. I run a program, along with my driven colleagues, focused on connecting these soon-to-be-graduates or Students and Young Professionals (SYPs) to the experts in their field. The MentorNet program is aimed at the new field of global health, an undefined field that requires networking and a bit of a hand to get established, the perfect place to focus on mentoring. We asked two of our steering committee members to reflect on mentorship, both from a SYP and a Mentor perspective, to explore the benefits of a mentor in the battle to the top.
What does mentorship mean to you?
SYP, Tommaso D’Ovidio: I see mentorship as a way to promote community. It’s a medium for the exchange of ideas and experiences that supports a sustainable transition from one generation to the next. Speaking from personal experience, this exchange develops into a relationship built on collaboration and mutual respect.
Mentor, Ziad Khatib: Mentorship is about helping others understand what they don't know, just because they don't know it. In Global Health, it can be either related to context related issues or about the framework of working in the field. There is also a difference between mentoring and supervising individuals in different academic settings (i.e. PhD vs. undergraduate), the expectations of the students may vary and it is important to make these expectations clear.
How do you see mentorship fitting into your career path?
SYP, Tommaso D’Ovidio: My first global health mentor experience was with MentorNet and it was one of the most formative experiences of my career to date. What the program fosters is critical reflection. When I started, my career path was a little unclear: I had a general idea of where I wanted to go, but I didn’t know how to get there. The MentorNet modules stimulated discussion about goal setting and different global health areas of interest. My mentor enriched our chats with first-hand experiences in a variety of global health roles and we discussed program management in Pakistan, refugee health, and health policy in Canada among many others. In fact, my mentor and I still stay in touch. Keeping each other in the loop about different career opportunities and just life in general. What’s better than advancing your career and forming life-long relationships along the way.
**The MentorNet program is run through the Canadian Society for International Health and is in its fourth year. Although up to know considered a national mentorship program, this year we are excited to have opened up the competition to international applicants. Application forms for both SYP and Mentor positions are available at www.csihmentornet.wordpress.com, as is more information about the program. We can be found on social media at @MentorNet_CSIH and CSIH MentorNet.