Starting your career in the rural water sector can be intimidating, and it can be difficult to know which direction to take and how to achieve your professional ambitions. Mentorship presents the opportunity for young professionals or students to exchange with more senior professionals in the water sector in order to progress more rapidly, and to learn from each other.
In 2019, RWSN is launching a mentorship scheme, aimed at matching young professionals under the age of 35 with more senior professionals in the rural water sector. The aim of this scheme is to help develop the new generation of water experts in the rural water sector, and to ensure the knowledge and experience acquired by senior members of the community is not lost.
How it works
The mentorship scheme entails connecting regularly via phone, Skype/ WhatsApp or in person regularly (e.g. once a month) and maintaining communication through email, message etc. The mentorship scheme is expected to last one year to help young professionals at the beginning of their career. If there is a willingness to stay engaged from both sides, the mentorship scheme can be extended beyond one year.
- Mentees (young professionals) and mentors (senior professionals) who have signed up for the mentorship scheme will be matched based on country or region of interest, and/or sector of interest, by the RWSN Secretariat.
- They will be encouraged to meet, usually online, or in person if possible (e.g. at sector events), at the request of the mentee (young professional), to guide them through the development of their professional career in rural water.
- The mentee (young professional) will be in charge of setting up the online meetings, making their expectations clear, and documenting outcomes, with support from the RWSN Secretariat if necessary.
- A senior professional can choose to mentor 1 or 2 young professionals at most.
Why participate in a mentorship programme?
What a mentor can do for you
A mentor can be a tremendous source of advice, information and a sounding board for your ideas. Here is how you can make the most of this relationship:
- Ask your mentor to take a look at your CV: A mentor can help improve how your CV is perceived by potential employers, but also offer advice on what professional experience or training you could do in the future to reach your professional goals. He or she can also help you create or update your LinkedIn profile.
- Ask your mentor to do a mock job interview: If you are considering applying for a job, your mentor can provide some good feedback on your interview technique.
- Ask your mentor for advice on career development: You may be interested in transitioning from one sector to another (e.g. from WASH to water resources management, or from development to humanitarian/ emergency work), but you are not sure on how to get started. A mentor can provide some useful advice and tips on how to make that transition, or suggest some organisations or affinity groups to join.
- Ask your mentor to provide feedback on ideas: You may be interested in starting a PhD, an NGO, a social enterprise, or your own business in the water sector. Ask your mentor for feedback on your ideas.
- Broaden your horizons: Your mentor may know of organisations that could be of interest to you in your career.
What’s in it for the mentor?
- Broaden your horizons: Mentors usually find the mentorship experience extremely rewarding. It not only helps them connect and build a relationship with one or several young professionals, but they may also learn from their mentees in relation to other organisations, new research in the sector, or learn about other ways of working.
- Share your knowledge: A mentorship programme allows you to share your knowledge and experience beyond your immediate organisation, and make a difference in a young person's career.
- Acquire management experience: Getting mentorship experience can be a stepping stone to managing other staff in your organisation/ company.
Who can participate
Anyone who is a RWSN Member can participate in the RWSN mentorship scheme. If you are not a RWSN Member, you can join here – it’s free, open to all and takes less than a minute. If you are not sure whether you are a RWSN Member, feel free to contact the RWSN Secretariat.
- Mentees: mentees (junior professionals) should be under the age of 35 at the time of signing up for the mentorship scheme. There is no minimum level of experience required.
- Mentors: There is no age requirement for mentors (senior professionals), but they should have a minimum of 5-7 years of professional experience in the water sector. We are looking for a range of mentors with different levels of experience and a variety of skills, so don’t hesitate to apply even if you feel that you may not be ‘senior’ enough.
- We strongly encourage women to sign up both as mentors and mentees, as they are currently under-represented in our membership and in the sector more broadly – and we would like this to change!
By signing up to the RWSN mentorship programme, mentors and mentees agree to abide by the RWSN code of conduct for the mentorship programme.
How to apply
Mentor and mentee interest forms are due on 1 February 2019; you will receive your match no later than one month after the deadline. Once the match is made, take the initiative to reach out to your mentor / mentee, and communicate at least once a month. Happy networking!
For more information on RWSN activities for young professionals, see here.