October 5, 2010

Thinking Outside the Nutshell

I’ve always thought that I have a pretty good sense of who I am and what I want to achieve. I also have great family and friends that help me figure these things out when I’m not sure (older brothers can always be relied on for making sure your ego doesn’t get too big!). But until recently I didn’t realise how a mentor can really figure you out in a way others may not be able to.

OK, so maybe I’m a little late on this mentorin
g bandwagon but I have to say: I’m loving it! The few times that I have met with my mentor have left me feeling focussed and confident about what I’m trying to achieve with my career (no mean feat in the face of finishing in 4 weeks and a very limited number of jobs out there). I have organised mentoring programs for other people, I’ve been a mentor but I realised recently that I’ve never actually had a formal mentor. To become an Accredited Practicing Dietitan (APD), new graduates need to have a dietitian mentor for at least 6 months. The idea is to help new grads focus on goals that keep them improving practice and continuing to learn (nutrition is a constant learning experience).

Enter ‘almost new grad’ Michelle (me). I thought that I could do with some insight from a dietitian on the best way to go about getting a job so decided to find a mentor before I finished my course. Turns out this was a great idea.
About 2 months ago I approached a dietitan who I respect to become my mentor. I chose her because she has a great skill for drilling down to the core of a problem and thinking about potential solutions. I had no idea just how well she would figure out what makes me tick.

I have to say one of the best and worst things about diving in to a new career is that you just get so excited about everything. Every time someone talks about what they do as a dietitian, or a new nutrition program, or new research the geek in me thinks: ‘Wow, that sounds so interesting I’d love to do that!’ Two years down the track and I have a list as long as my arm of things I’d like to do in nutrition from healthier recipes on lifestyle TV shows to helping people in third world countries improve their food supply.

My mentor has been so effective at helping me work out what I’m really passionate about and where to focus. Through a combination of her insights into my personality and her guidance in getting me to think about where my passion lies I have some really clear ideas about where I want to work and what I want to achieve. She’s also been able to help me focus my CV and made some contacts with potential employers.

So my reason for sharing this is two-fold: one is that I’m trying to make this blog a little more personal and less ‘chalk and talk’; second is I wanted to suggest that no matter who you are or where you are at, keep in mind the idea of having a mentor. It might help you think about yourself, your passions and your skills in a different light.

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