MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --
All of us have been new and inexperienced in the workplace. You have career goals and a plan for your future, yet you don’t have a well-defined path to achieve your objective. If you only had more experience and knowledge, you could make a solid plan to realize your goals.
There are no short cuts to gaining knowledge and experience, it takes time, period. Realize though, that not all experience is helpful. I call learning by making mistakes, “the hard way.” I have had to learn far too many things “the hard way.” So let me share some advice so you can avoid making unnecessary mistakes that can affect your career goals. Utilize a mentor.
Fortunately, we have people that have preceded us, who possess knowledge we can access to improve ourselves. This is why it is important to develop professional relationships, so we are able to tap in to the experience of others.
As members of the Guard, by nature, we serve part time. Earlier, I stated that experience takes time; mentoring does as well. The challenge we face is maximizing our limited resource of time.
Since it is difficult as Guardsmen to conform to the traditional method of mentoring, perhaps we need to look at it from a different angle. Maybe you don’t consider yourself a mentor or a mentee because of the brief time we share together. If you fall into that category, perhaps you should change your mindset. Every time we put on our uniforms and perform our duty, we should consider ourselves in at least one, if not both of those roles. Then we will be actively engaged as a mentor or a mentee at all times.
As you work with Airmen junior to you, it is imperative to share your knowledge at every opportunity presented to you. Whether you are a Senior Airman or a Major. You should be preparing those junior to you for your position. And conversely, you should be looking to those above you and learning from them. Ask questions, share past experiences, and be proactive. This flow of knowledge needs to be a continuous cycle, it will make us better at the individual, as well as the organizational level.
Of course, you can set up a traditional mentor-mentee relationship. If you are interested in having a mentor, there are options to explore. Utilize someone here at McEntire. Develop a relationship with someone you trust. Work with them to implement a development plan. Did you know the Air Force has an online mentoring program? You can access mentors using the MyVector program. This program is accessible from the AF portal, under the Career & Training heading. While there, you can also find links to resources for mentees and mentors.
Effort on your part is required to take the necessary actions to achieve your professional goals. Seek out the knowledge of others. Don’t learn “the hard way.”