Mentorships bring more than just skill improvements.
Few professional relationships match the importance of a mentor and mentee. One teaches through the wisdom of experience while the other through enthusiasm and eagerness to contribute. United, the pair can push forward any goals.
Ben Woelk, CISSP, CPTC, and Kelsey Loftin have such a relationship. Woelk, the mentor, Loftin, the mentee, joined together as speakers for their session titled “Kelsey & Ben’s Excellent Adventure: A Mentoring Journey.”
What eventually blossomed into a mentorship began as a simple LinkedIn post in 2017.
The Mentor Meets the Mentee
Woelk pitched an article about introverted leadership and technical communication to Liz Pohland, then editor of Intercom. In return, Pohland offered Woelk the chance to be guest editor of the next issue to delve into the subject.
Woelk called for contributions on LinkedIn. Loftin responded to the post to direct Woelk to a friend. Fortunately, the pair happened to speak about shared interests, and Woelk discovered Loftin was interested in writing about the usefulness of the Myers-Briggs test and others like it. Loftin believed they could be great tools for creating user profiles with personas for tech writers, designers, and engineers.
But mentor-mentee relationships take time to develop. Woelk and Loftin worked as collaborators on projects for Intercom and grew to know each other. When Woelk launched a podcast, he set up a Patreon page to create cover art. Loftin, through her own graphic design experience, stepped in to help. And, when Loftin struggled with anxiety and depression, Woelk was there for her.
Soon, the pair decided it was time their relationship evolved into a more formal mentorship.
Making Mentorships Work
So, how did Woelk and Loftin create such a strong bond? During their session, the pair emphasized bidirectional relationships, which means both the mentor and mentee learn and grow. For Loftin, that two-way street allowed her to bring her own skill set, even as a mentee.
Woelk said to make a mentor-mentee relationship work depends on what benefits both parties. A productive mentorship can be structured with checkpoints and a curriculum, or, like he and Loftin, an unstructured approach may be best.
Still, the pair preached the most important first step for any mentor-mentee relationship was honesty and vulnerability.
To watch this session and more from STC’s 2021 Summit, visit www.stc.org.