Mentoring matters – top tips on finding a mentor

With enrolment numbers for the ARA’s Professional Development Programme continuing to rise, we wanted to share our top tips on finding a mentor and highlight the vital role that mentors play in supporting members towards ARA professional recognition.

The ARA recognises a mentor as someone with more experience and knowledge than yourself. Mentors will support you in your self-assessment, and offer advice on the written evidence you will use in your application. All Foundation and Registered candidates must appoint a mentor to help them progress towards their chosen level of membership.

Our preference is for you to find your own mentor – it’s likely you may already know someone who would be well-suited to this role – but if you need support in finding one, please read the ‘finding a mentor’ section in the programme guide (page 9) or contact chris.sheridan@archives.org.uk.

Any candidate without a mentor will receive a list of mentors once they have enrolled onto the programme. This contains contact details of ARA members willing to mentor candidates, but we can’t guarantee their availability unfortunately.

Although there are no restrictions on who can become a mentor, the ARA recommends that mentors are Foundation, Registered or Fellow Members of the ARA.

Here are a few points to take into consideration when choosing a mentor:

  • Your mentor will need to be familiar with the ARA’s competency framework as you’ll need to discuss your competency development with them.
  • You mentor can be a colleague or person known to you at your workplace, but ideally not someone who is your line manager.
  • Mentors don’t need to be located near you because mentoring can be provided via Skype, phone and email, depending on what best suits you and your mentor. This is particularly useful for mentors and candidates located in different geographical areas or even different countries.
  • If you don’t have anyone suitable at your organisation or you’re not currently working, there may be individuals you’ve worked with in the past who you could approach to be your mentor.
  • If you have a friend or colleague with a mentor, then that mentor might be willing to take on another candidate.
  • If there is no one suitable within your current network of contacts, then we recommend attending national or regional ARA events so you can meet more ARA members and develop your network to potentially find a mentor.

Finally, as a candidate you are expected to take ownership of your learning and development.  Although your chosen mentor will be your first point of contact, if there are other colleagues, professionals or networks known to you, we would encourage you to reach out to them for additional guidance and support as you progress towards your chosen competency levels at your own pace.

Becoming a mentor

If you are contemplating becoming a programme mentor and you haven’t already been approached by a candidate looking for a mentor, we recommend that you make your interest in mentoring known via your own professional networks.

You can also consider joining the ARA’s mentor list which is provided to candidates who are struggling to find a mentor.  Prior experience is not required as the ARA’s Guidance for Mentors document sets out the key activities involved.

For further information on becoming a mentor, please contact chris.sheridan@archvies.org.uk.

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