In-Depth 3.0 – Finding the Context

This week’s focus for our mentor meeting is context, and to me, it means asking the questions: what is the context of my meetings, why is there this context, how is it significant, and how does it impact the mentoring relationship. These are hard series of questions to find out, as I noticed how beyond the initial context of the place and time, there is the mindset of my mentor or me, which are also contexts in our conversation, in addition to what we are doing.

Zachary (2000) points out that to overcome the influences of the multiple contextual layers that affect an individual simultaneously, it is wise to set ground rules and processes which work in specific context. To answer the questions above, I made sure that both my mentor and I know the “terms and conditions” of our time together. We made sure we know how we will communicate with one another first, which is through email, and then an in-person meeting. The usual meeting location will either be at my house, his house or the library, which I will detail in my emails. We would meet at least twice a month, and by the end of our time together we would have accomplished the goals of this project. This section of our meeting went very well, and we were able to set clear goals for the next few meetings.

One different thing about this year’s In-Depth that I’ve noticed is that I have much better communication with my mentor. We could communicate well with each other in our meetings because we respected each other and knew each other well.  This enabled us to listen, think and respond in an effective fashion. We had a good relationship, which means that we are at ease with each other when sitting together, and we can experiment with ideas without fear. All of this helped us communicate clearly and pleasantly.

There are still some things that can be improved in the mentoring sessions. It could be nice if we could:

  1. have time to talk a little bit more about ourselves so we can understand each other better.
  2. have smaller informal discussions during the week to exchange information.
  3. eliminate distractions and focus for the hour on the most important things.

To accomplish these goals, I plan to set up an extra meeting (depending on my mentor’s availability) this week sometime to do a casual cafe talk about our life experiences and goals. If he is not available, an online chat would also be great. I am going to try to revive my WeChat account, the main social media messaging account that my mentor uses. It is hard because WeChat is not on the computer, and I don’t have a phone accessible at many times. I will just set a routine of writing down some casual questions and getting my phone to ask once in a while. I realized since last year that an agenda, or just simply a list of questions/goals for the meeting works very well to keep me and my mentor on track since we are aware of the content and time to go.

As for my progress this week, I am still doing backgrounders, watching Khan Academy videos on stock and bonds and reading elementary Investopedia articles, which are extremely detailed and helpful (they are actually meant for university finance students and adults). I didn’t take many notes, which I guess I should do. I may just go over the videos and copy the key term though.

Introduction to Mentorship (In-depth Post 2, Week 3)

As the In-depth project progress, we are now starting to meet with our mentors and receive guidance from them regarding our goals and procedures. Ms. Mulder has asked us to comment on the following questions for this post:

  1. How did your mentor gain their experience/ expertise?
  2. What were those experiences like for your mentor?
  3. What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?
  4. What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?

 

My mentor gained his experience in the investment field through personal interest, jobs, and education. He received teaching in university that helped him find a job as a broker, initially. He told me that after switching a few jobs and having many mentors in between, he is now an investment counsellor and can finally start helping others on the journey that he went through. He is a firm believer of the “guide and relate” model of mentoring relationships when I mentioned it to him, and he commented that the best teachers he had didn’t just pour out information to him, but created an environment where he can learn on his own, supporting him and guiding him to implement his actions. Teaching did provide him with a lot of professional knowledge, but the most important ones came from teachers, who like mentors, took the time to learn about him and personally encourage and support him. The conversations between us are almost just an exemplary model of how having a mentor one on one can help me digest information. I had read Ms. Mulder’s blog post about mentorship, but it is through this conversation that I am able to develop my own interpretations of it and have someone experienced confirm or reject it. My mentor is far from perfect, but I learned to be understanding of other people’s ideas, especially those who have no previous experience and is not restricted by the standardized conventions. Truly, mentoring is not about how we influence others, but how we help them on their journey to find their own version of the truth they are seeking.