In the final blog post for mentoring month, we hear from a mentoring cohort at ZSR. Thanks to Tanya and Amanda for sharing their story!


Amanda requested Tanya as a mentor last year as she prepared her promotion dossier and they decided to extend their mentoring relationship another year to discuss other goals – making this year our second year together as a mentoring pair! Our goals for this year included discussing career growth, integrating new roles and responsibilities, and managing stress. We met monthly for lunch and aimed to have a set item for conversation each meal.

Amanda’s Perspective of Our Mentoring Discussions:

One of the biggest themes of our conversations has been the challenges and opportunities of growing in place, especially now that I’m approaching mid-career (which feels weird to say, honestly!) Several years ago now, I read a blog post by Erin White (from VCU) called What It Means to Stay which discusses career growth when you are committed to staying at an organization. This blog post is my (career-related) Roman Empire – I related to it so much and I think about it all the time. I mention it here because The advice is essentially, “you either go high or you go deep… you’ll have success either way.”

Staying at an organization long term often means choosing the route of “going deep.” But what does that mean? Tanya has gently pushed me to consider important questions like, “What kind of work would I like to be doing?” “What is a reasonable amount of work to be doing?” and “How do I get where I want to go?”

We also talked quite a bit about managing stress and burnout. If we’ve talked, you probably know I bit off more than I could chew by applying to graduate school right before the pandemic started. I assume that others have beautifully managed a family, a job, and a part-time graduate degree, but for me it was too much. So, we also talked quite a bit about setting boundaries – especially internal boundaries and learning to say no to myself, even if it means missing out on a great opportunity. Early in my career, I said yes to every good idea in my head, but Tanya has helped me see that professional growth also means learning where I can be most effective and also listening to where my heart guides me to go.

I’ve really appreciated Tanya’s insight and thoughtfulness, and I appreciate her willingness to mentor me at this critical stage in my career.

Tanya’s Perspective of Our Mentoring Discussions:

I have always enjoyed the process of mentoring throughout my career, although usually I am mentoring other archivists. I was a mentor for the Society of American Archivists beginning in 1995 through 2020, and always volunteered at the annual meeting to review resumes and give advice. Rebecca was going back through some of her files and found my business card, we obviously met to discuss her resume long before I came to Wake Forest!

I do think mentoring is one of the most important contributions we can make as professionals and you certainly don’t need to be a long-timer to be a mentor. You just need to be willing to share your experiences and ask the questions which may be helpful for someone else for their own career. It’s important to pay it back and to nurture the next generation as they face issues and challenges.

I have really enjoyed talking with Amanda as she faces challenges as a mid-career librarian. Reading through her comments above, I am so glad I was able to help her navigate through what are very complicated life and career issues. I especially have appreciated her honesty and willingness to discuss how she might change her habits and practices.

On a final note, I co-taught a Career Planning workshop about 10 years ago for the Midwest Archives Conference and have been using some of the handouts for both Amanda and some of my Team members. She and I have briefly discussed conducting a workshop on mid-career challenges for ZSR, so if you would be interested in participating, please let us know!