A mentor is a trusted guide, tutor or coach. Although mentors can have different roles, all mentors have the same goal in common: to help other people achieve their potential and discover their strengths.
If you are a fledgling translator, a mentor can help you to prefect your skills and navigate your way through the complexities of a new profession. However, these relationships can be extremely valuable to both parties. I have had the privilege of mentoring several graduate students through internship programmes with universities and have found it to be a rewarding experience. I also have a couple of young translators bring their computers and work in my office for extended periods and have offered to just be there to help. One of them is now a close friend, almost like a daughter. In fact we are about to go on holiday together! At the end of the day, I have been lucky enough to benefit from the wisdom of some excellent personal and professional mentors during my life and it’s a joy to be able to “pay it forward”.
Some of the best of these professional mentors were colleagues at an English language newspaper in Spain. The paper is, unfortunately, no more. It was called the CB Friday, and although I was originally taken on as a translator, my job quickly expanded to include writing articles and taking photographs, proofreading and editing other writers’ work. I learned time management, people management and quality control. My life revolved around tight deadlines. It was a wonderful, stimulating work environment full of creativity, enthusiasm and fun and I had the time of my life.
The manager and editor of the newspaper, Roy Wickman and Molly Warwick, respectively, were both very experienced and made wonderful mentors. Roy had worked in Fleet Street and he was the mastermind behind the paper. Molly was a mine of information, tips and tricks. They were both generous with all that expertise, passing on their skills and sharing their knowledge with everyone who worked on the team. Molly taught me a lot about staying calm, being patient and gave me a great sense of perspective. Unfortunately when the property bubble burst the paper lost a lot of money and was forced to close. We were all forced to move on and find different jobs.
Luckily, when this source of employment disappeared there someone else standing in the wings with some sensible advice, a family friend. Instead of consoling me when I told him that I had lost my job, he said, “What a wonderful opportunity to do something even better with your life!” He inspired me to use my skills as a freelancer and the rest is history.
So if you have a little time on your hands, why not offer to mentor a young person. It’s a great way to help them to find out about potential careers. Even e-mentoring can allow mentors and “mentees” to develop relationships by exchanging messages online.