Becoming a mentor to a Licentiate member who is working their way through the RTPI Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) membership route is personally and professionally worthwhile.
A mentor’s job is to challenge the graduate planner to be critically reflective of their work and progress, and the idea of reflection is based on the principle that gaining experience alone is not the most efficient means of developing the work based skills needed as a professional.
A good mentor will encourage a planner to prioritise taking time out from the day-to-day pressures of work to consider what they have done, what they have learned and how this might affect their ability to act in future.
A mentor provides an independent and objective sounding board that means the graduate planner does not have to go through these ideas in isolation. But it could be the problem solving, confidence boost or increase in communication that enables positive change to happen.
Because being reflective involves questioning one’s experience rather than just taking it for granted, a mentor can facilitate and explore key questions and encourage the person being mentored to record their findings. What have I learned from this? What would I repeat or do differently this time?
It is up to Licentiates to find their own APC mentors, and it is useful to discuss with your line manager whether they could put you in touch with a peer or senior colleague. Alternatively you may be able to utilise contacts from where you graduate or from the RTPI region or young planners network. Anyone interested in becoming a APC mentor can also volunteer via an electronic form on the RTPI website. Information on mentors and mentoring can be found here.
There is a developing trend for APC mentors accessible primarily through email. This approach would appeal to those prospective mentors who find email exchanges less constraining on time. This also means that volunteer mentors from one area of the country could have the opportunity to be an “electronic mentor” to a graduate planner elsewhere in the UK or overseas perhaps a resident of an area lacking in suitable mentors.
If you think you can help and would like to get involved, please apply via the RTPI website.
To read more from the Planner 2015 Guide to Career Development please click here.