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In December 2014 the University of Cambridge Museums initiated a 12 month programme to create a small supportive mentoring network of museum professionals to gain more confidence in their personal and professional development as either a mentee or a mentor. Sixteen people were recruited, mostly from University of Cambridge Museums but also from other nearby museums or museum-related roles. The positions held ranged from senior managers to apprentices so there were a wide range of requirements, skills and knowledge to be accommodated.
The emphasis of the programme was on 1:1 mentoring with three joint sessions at the start, midway and end of the programme. The initial session involved training in listening skills and an exploration of what mentoring entailed. The midway and final session invited an inspirational speaker to talk about their own museum “journey” and what influences had contributed to their success.
The concluding session looked back over the past 11 months and evaluated the effectiveness of the programme. Participants felt that the programme had been a success and most were keen to maintain a mentoring relationship in some form. It was generally felt that the mentoring arrangements should not be too structured, but should enable both parties to have time and space to reflect on their situations.
Comments from participants included
“My mentor was excellent, very experienced and had a lot of good advice.”
“Very useful to have a mentor in a different field (surprisingly?!)”
“The sharing and the respect between both parties, and meeting new people – bonus.”
“The friendship and positive feedback was rewarding. A real feel-good factor.”
The mentoring network has been a real success for participants and the University of Cambridge Museums are currently considering how to further develop the initiative.
Linda Brooklyn, Personnel and Workforce Development Manager, Fitzwilliam Museum