Reap What You Sow. A &!@*# [millennial] perspective on mentoring

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Presentation given at the PNC/MLA Annual Conference, October 17-20, 2009. Seattle, WA.

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  • Introduce self.I want to talk to you about my perspective on mentoring relationships. I cannot speak for others, only for myself and what I say today is very much informed by my personality, how I communicate, how I learn, and my own experiences.Yes, this slide contains a dirty word. Any guesses as to what it is? (And no, it’s not really a dirty word.)
  • Stop. Collaborate and Listen. Stop making assumptions. We all need to do it, especially when it comes to generational differences. But guess what, I AM a millenial and a lot of new librarians entering the workforce fall into this category.
  • You could say that libraries are under “Attack of the Millenials.” Libraries have millenial librarians AND millenial patrons.
  • Let’s look a bit more closely at that definition of the dirty word. While some of these aren’t as strong for me personally, others are acute. They are: Visual Learners. I grew up with Sesame Street. It’s how I learned to read and know my numbers. Hands on Learners: I dislike being talked at and honestly I don’t like that I’m talking at you right now. I would much rather be in a collaborative hands-on workshop environment than sitting on a panel. Goal Oriented: Contrary to traditional notions of younger generations, we aren’t slackers. I am not a slacker. I never have been. In fact, I’m an overachiever and I like measurable accomplishments.But this list is missing a few things that I think would really inform a mentoring relationship with someone like myself.
  • Highly InformalGrassroots campaigns such as those that we find in Hip Hop culture (as exemplified in this picture) speak to me.
  • Since formal mentoring programs usually pair people in positions with (relatively) a lot of power with people in positions with no power this can be a real issue. I think because of this issue some people might inclined to not participate in formal programs.
  • The way I solicit advice is within my social network. I’d rather be informed by lots of perspectives and then think about each of them and take what I want from it.
  • Why don’t I want it? Possibly a perceived power structure. Possibly my personality. I am extroverted and a communicator. I speak for myself. I do not speak for my “generation” my peers, or anything else. In fact, conversations that I’ve had with Jenny Levine contradict this greatly. She has pointed me to formal mentoring programs that people who are my peers value, want and need. Another point of Jenny’s might be that I don’t quite understand what mentoring or formal mentoring IS. This is a continuing dialogue and we both seem to be getting a lot out of it. So maybe SHE is my mentor.
  • I want:Aninformal network of people who help me when I need it.At work I want a formal person whom I can contact with questions regarding tenure, traversing my health insurance, how to best navigate political structures at my institution, etc. But honestly, I’d rather tap the network I already have for mentoring help, or expand my network within that definition. And maybe it’s really the thought of being a “joiner” that bothers me. Put it in a framework that I like and want, and I’ll do it.
  • Jenny Levine has created, within ALA’s new networking site, ALA Connect, a feature called MentorConnect. It attempts to marry formal mentoring with networking. Relationships that are established can be as formal or as informal as the mentor and mentee want them to be. It is USER GENERATED and this appeals to me highly. It feels more democratic, and I get to “shop” for a mentor who I think will be a good fit.
  • I want a mentor who is like me. But with more experience. I want a mentor who also rejects power structures, and who can help me navigate bureaucracy with as little pain as possible, and
  • Reap What You Sow. A &!@*# [millennial] perspective on mentoring

    1. 1. A “&!#$*%” Perspective on Mentoring Presented by Emily Ford fordem@ohsu.edu 503-494-3915
    2. 2. Thanks to Hoyaseg on Flickr for this image.
    3. 3. Thanks Tom Woodward, for this image!
    4. 4. •Highly informal•Reject powerstructures•Highly in tune withsocial capital
    5. 5. Highly Informal Thanks Voteprime for this image!
    6. 6. Reject Power Structures Thanks Lincolnian for the picture!
    7. 7. Highly in Tune with Social Capital Former teachers MassageFacebook therapist Friends Parents Boss Partner Tweets Colleagues HairdresserStudents
    8. 8. Formal MentoringGet this public domain image from: http://lolcatz.net/829/do-not-want/
    9. 9. Informal Mentoring Yes, plz! Thanks to Stéphane Delbecque for this image!
    10. 10. The Mentoring Future?
    11. 11. So what I really want is…This photo is public domain. Photo courtesy of Tobyotter http://www.flickr.com/photos/78428166@N00/38018666 35/

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