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On November 2, the Mentoring Committee sponsored a “Mentoring Skills Builder” program. The program was designed to provide an opportunity for assembly members and current mentees/mentors to meet and discuss two short mentoring articles. Committee members (Giz Womack and Bobbie Collins) volunteered to lead the discussion.

The articles chosen for the program look at both sides of the mentoring relationship. The first article written by Lois J. Zachary focuses on taking the time to develop yourself. Zachary offers “6 development conversations to have with yourself.” In opening up the discussion of this article, Giz asked the group to comment on the first conversation in the article, “Where do I see myself in five years?” This opened the floor to an active discussion by those attending of their various career paths. No two people had the same path, and hearing about the paths of others was both engaging and thought provoking.

It is interesting to note that several staff mentioned that serendipity played a role in shaping their careers. Career plans are sometimes altered when dual-career couples relocate to a new geographical area. There can be some fascinating possibilities in this situation. The key is to be flexible and be willing to try new experiences which can often lead to more career options. In addition to discussing career paths, we also discussed the roles mentors had played in our careers thus far.

Another key point mentioned in the discussion centered on being part of a supportive organizational environment like ZSR. Having colleagues and a library administration that support and assist you in professional development activities are critical components of the workplace.

The second article which appeared in the July/August 2011 issue of American Libraries discusses the benefits of mentoring and notes that sometimes “mentors need advice.” Years later after mentoring a library school student, the author found herself seeking help from her former mentee. Those attending the journal reading program agreed that networking can be beneficial in opening new avenues for a successful career.

Although just six people came to the program, the discussion was very lively. Participants were very willing to share experiences about their career paths. All in all it was a great mentoring conversation! (post co-authored by Bobbie Collins and Giz Womack)