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Supporting Roles

How to Create a Successful Mentorship

By Janice Quirt

As a first-time mentor, Leanne McCartney wasn’t sure what to expect. But reflecting over the past eight months of mentoring Liliya Chvalyuk, a recent graduate of Seneca College’s Tourism and Travel program, it turned out to be a great learning experience for both of them.

McCartney, group sales manager at the Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto at the time, was paired with Chvalyuk through SITE Canada’s mentorship program. Brock Dale, director, SITE Canada Young Leaders, notes that having a formal program in place helps people make mentorship connections during a time in which technology has changed many things, including how we meet people.

“Those organic relationships between industry newbies and veterans just weren’t happening,” says Dale. “That’s why some organizations now offer semi-structured mentorship programs to match up interested participants.”

What to Expect
“We started by sharing our interests, schooling and professional experiences and then focused on Liliya’s goals,” says McCartney, who notes the experience has been a great learning opportunity in mentorship. Chvalyuk shares the sentiment, saying the learning goes both ways, and that she gained the invaluable support of an industry insider and received advice about potential employment.

There’s a misconception that being a mentor takes a lot of time. SITE Canada recommends a commitment of one year, connecting once a quarter. Most participants exceed those requirements, meeting about once a month in person, or via phone or Skype. Other than that, it’s up to the individuals to define their relationship and its direction. McCartney and Chvalyuk also made it a point to meet at industry events.

The Pay Off
A mentorship is a two-way street. Dale says the “rookie” may learn best practices in business acumen (meeting protocol, networking, etc.), brainstorm solutions and gain confidence. In turn, the mentor may get exposed to the latest technology or trends. “It’s a great way to meet a new industry contact and gain a fresh perspective,” says Dale. “More than that, it’s the chance to make a lasting impression on someone eager to cultivate a successful career.”

And what became of McCartney and Chvalyuk’s connection? Chvalyuk recently found a job—and her mentor was absolutely thrilled!

Getting Started
While you can create your own mentorship, many industry organizations—such as SITE, MPI (Meeting Professionals International) and ILEA (International Live Events Association)—have programs that do the matchmaking for you. You might also find contacts through social media and industry events. 

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