Mentoring Program

On Saturday 24 May, the first Victorian mentors-to-be in the National Mentoring Program attended a workshop facilitated by Elizabeth Manning Murphy and coordinated by Davina Dadley-Moore. The workshop provided an introduction to the program, and explored what the role of a mentor is (and isn't). It was an engaging introduction to what I believe will prove to be a very valuable professional development program for editors.

The program was originally piloted by the Canberra Society of Editors, and is coordinated nationally by Elizabeth Manning Murphy, DE, and Ted Briggs, AE. It is open to editors of any experience level, and mentoring can be in any area related to editing. Elizabeth explained that before setting up the Australian program she had researched mentoring programs in other countries. The Australian program is wider in scope than many, notably including that of the UK, which consists purely of an editor setting and then marking an editing 'assignment'. In Australia, a mentee may be mentored in - for instance - setting up a freelance business, onscreen editing skills or editing in a specific field (such as academic theses).

A mentorship should be equivalent to eight hours, for which the mentee pays a small fee and the mentor receives an honorarium. The hours may be spread out over a month or a year, to be agreed upon in the first session.

As a group, we discussed a number of case studies based on real-life experiences in the program so far. These highlighted the importance of setting clear expectations and boundaries. We also talked through the qualities of a good mentor. Central to the program is the idea that a mentorship should be mentee-driven. It is not the mentor's job to impose from above, but rather to listen closely and help the mentee define specific goals and then go about taking steps to achieve them.

I walked away from the workshop with the confidence to register as a mentor in my fields of expertise, and enthusiasm about participating in the program. As a freelancer, I find it is easy to miss the kind of collegial exchanges that take place naturally inhouse, and I see this as one means of keeping communication flowing and sharing expertise among colleagues.

Personally, I look forward to being both mentor and mentee, and I suspect many others will feel similarly. Although many of the editors at the workshop had decades of experiences, several of them indicated that they would be interested in being mentored in specific fields as well as offering their time to others.

The strength of the program will be its capacity to open up enriching exchanges between editors of different experience levels and from different fields. I commend the Canberra Society for initiating it and would encourage other editors, whether freelance or inhouse, to participate in the program as well.

Kirstie Innes-Will