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Jennifer D. Foster

The Benefits of Mentorship

Illustration of two women sitting at a café table and chatting.
Illustration of two women sitting at a cafe table and chatting.
Copyright: sabelskaya

Being a freelance editor and writer is — more often than not — a solo experience, and participating in mentorships can help ease the sense of isolation many of us experience. That’s one of the reasons I became a mentor a decade ago. I’ve been mentoring novice and/or transitioning editors via Editors Canada since 2012, initially as a volunteer, when the program wasn’t national, and then as a paid mentor via the John Eerkes-Medrano Mentorship Program.

I also volunteered as a mentor to novice writers for the now former Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) from 2014 to 2019. And I’ve been mentoring novice/aspiring (student) editors, writers and authors via my company, Planet Word, for the last four years.

The other reason I started mentoring is that during my 24-year career as an editor and writer (18 as a freelancer), I’ve found bosses, colleagues, clients and fellow freelancers to be incredibly giving, kind and supportive, and so I feel it’s crucial to give back. Karma and kindness are key in my world. We’re in this thing called life together, and it’s all about paying it forward and doing our part to help others succeed.

Amazing transformations

I’m continually amazed at and buoyed by the transformations that occur in the mentees during a mentorship and beyond. Many of my former mentees were at the beginning of their careers, unsure of next steps, and experiencing a gigantic case of imposter syndrome. Other mentees felt stalled career-wise, searching for direction and a renewed sense of motivation, and still others were testing the freelance waters, wondering if they had what it takes. By the mentorship’s end, through my encouragement and judgment-free environment and the mentees’ unwavering dedication, each experienced a big confidence boost, their industry knowledge heightened and their skills sharpened, and they felt inspired.

Two of my past mentees can attest to these transformations, with both singing the praises of mentorship. Toronto-based freelance content writer Monique Bourgeois, whom I mentored in 2015 via PWAC, says that “having a mentor meant having someone else on my side, believing in me. That meant a lot, especially during those times when I was overwhelmed with the enormity of what I was trying to accomplish. I highly recommend mentorship. It was a great source of accountability! Having someone there to help push me to keep going was key. Without that, I may have thrown in the towel and wouldn’t be where I am today.”

And Toronto-based freelance medical-legal editor Jahleen Turnbull-Sousa, whom I mentored via Editors Canada in 2018, notes: “My mentor helped me to clarify my goals for my business and to make a plan, and she helped me to set realistic pricing so I wasn’t undercharging. It was invaluable to have a seasoned, successful editor to answer my questions, talk me through my imposter syndrome fears, and help me direct my actions to make them count. One of the things I appreciated the most from my mentorship experience was something my mentor told me during our final session: ‘You’re going to make it as an editor.’ To hear that from someone I respected and admired was an incredible confidence-booster and exactly what I needed to hear. I am grateful to say that she was right — thanks in large part to the mentorship program and my membership in Editors Canada.”

Inspiration and near-immeasurable gains

Over the last 10 years, what I’ve given in time and expertise, I’ve received back in near-immeasurable gains from my grateful, hard-working mentees. Among myriad other tangible benefits, they’ve shared with me: websites, blogs, podcasts and apps; books and articles; events, courses, workshops and seminars/webinars; companies, groups and organizations; and time-saving software. Mentoring continues to be a joy-filled, humbling, eye-opening experience for me. And all the mentees I’ve had the pleasure of working with inspire me to be a better freelancer — and human.

Finally, the sense of fulfillment and community I feel from mentoring is boundless. Being part of a mentorship community helps me to stay current and motivated, enhances my network and my well-being, helps to keep my brand top of mind and strengthens my professional development profile.

Take the mentorship plunge

A 2019 Forbes.com article found that 76 per cent of people surveyed thought mentors were important, but only 37 per cent had one. To me, being an active lifelong learner is vital to the success of one’s career, and I believe mentorship is a significant part of that. If you’re wondering whether to take the mentorship plunge, go for it — you won’t regret your decision!

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The Editors’ Weekly is the official blog of Editors Canada. Contact us.


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