Written by Mivielis Rivera, Pharm.D candidate
There is great importance in the decision of starting a mentorship. As a pharmacy student more than halfway through school, I decided to make this time commitment for the betterment of myself and my future professional career. As it pertains to all decisions in life, deciding to have a mentor came with its own set of tasks. The time came to decide who would be my mentor. I was fortunate enough to be presented with a potential mentoring connection within NRMN and this connection ensured I would have someone already willing to make the same commitment towards improvement of self. Ultimately, it was crucial to my overall experience.
The right timeframe and dynamic could lead to your immense growth as a student, employee, and as a person. My first step after securing the connection with my mentor was to acknowledge what I would like out of the mentorship and communicate these expectations. In the past, I have gathered advice from those ahead of me in school and fostered some short-term mentorships. Unfortunately, these led to short meetings filled with short pieces of advice and minute conversation. I was dedicated to have this connection be as effective as possible while also building a relationship with my mentor.
Our initial conversation consisted of what I would like to get out of the experience. I emphasized my search for a specialty within my field. As a future pharmacist, I would have the ability to work in a great number of settings such as industry, insurance, retail, clinical, and nuclear just to name a few. The vast number of career specialties as a pharmacist meant I would need to find my own way and what best suits me within pharmacy. I expressed these wants to my mentor and it has defined our topics of conversation ever since. Our conversations have allowed me to keep an open mind within my profession and take any learning opportunities that come my way. This experience has also allowed me to improve my networking skills and gain a better understanding of the strategies that are required to create a successful connection with other in the same field.
I understood the sacrifices my mentor was making to impart some knowledge and allow me to succeed. Therefore, we set a professor/student dynamic. This was particularly beneficial for me as a doctoral student since I would have certain assignments and goals to achieve within a specified amount of time. We also designated the frequency and manners in which we would communicate. My mentor does incur travel and it was important to arrange meetings that appropriately worked with our schedules. Video conferencing was ultimately the best way for us to communicate as we live in different time zones within the country.
Throughout the mentoring connection, my mentor and I have been able to keep our communications open. We have consistently given each other feedback on our overall perception of our meetings. This consistent feedback has allowed us to further understand the areas we need to improve and discuss whether any progress has been made. The area of communication that has benefitted us the most has been in relation to the experience itself. As a woman and minority within the healthcare field, my mentor and I have discussed our views and perceptions of having my specific background in the work force. Specifically, we talked about building confidence and understanding the importance of maintaining composure in difficult situations. These conversations, although somewhat difficult at times, have given me insight and allowed me to build the necessary tools thrive.
I encourage those who gain mentorship to seek the dynamic that works best for both as it will dictate the environment for the whole experience. This is the time to learn the most you can from an experienced individual in your industry. It is the ideal place to ask the right questions and gain a better understanding of your work force. A mentoring connection allows you the opportunity to ask questions you would not normally ask a superior. The correct dynamic also opens up the chance for the mentee to receive a genuine and personable response from a well-respected individual in their field.
Mentoring can be a challenging experience and a leap outside of your comfort zone. However, having the correct approach and the right mindset will allow you to gain an enormity of skill sets that will propel you into a new level as a future professional. Communication, mindset, professionalism, and attitude are just a few. As a student, you will have many instances where you can prove your work ethic and professionalism. A mentor will allow you to turn these small moments into big opportunities.