In 2012, Andrew Bakos signed up with The Mentoring Partnership to become a mentor in the engineering field. In that time, he has mentored many internationally-trained engineering professionals from diverse cultural backgrounds. Having recently completed his 10th partnership, Andrew reflects on his exciting journey and learning experience.
I began mentoring with The Mentoring Partnership program about five years ago. In my previous job, my boss at that time approached me about becoming a mentor in the program, mentioning that it would be a good fit with my skills and abilities. I have always been keen on giving back to the community through volunteering, so I was immediately onboard with joining this program.
Since then, I have been fortunate to meet some very interesting people from different cultural backgrounds through this program. I remember one of my mentees, in particular, who was very diligent. Even after our partnership ended, he always stayed in touch through phone calls and lunch meetings, and finally, he was able to get a job in a related field. Like him, each of the people I have mentored has had their own unique story to share. Their stories and experiences have inspired me to continue mentoring, even after I left my previous job and began working at my current job.
Mentoring has also helped me in my own learning experience. I have been able to meet people from diverse cultural backgrounds, and listen to their stories. Being an engineer, I have been able to learn about the engineering practices in other countries through my mentees. I now have a better understanding of people from different cultural backgrounds, and how to better communicate with them. The resources provided by The Mentoring Partnership through their website have also been very useful for me in becoming a better mentor. I have also used the “work safe, home safe” guide, available at my work, to guide my mentees on how they can become a good fit in the Canadian workplace.
My experience with mentoring has taught me that the professionals who come to Canada from other countries already have great technical skills. What they need is help in building their soft skills and guidance in understanding the Canadian work culture. I would advise fellow mentors to be patient, because it does take time and effort, but the benefits make it really worthwhile. Mentors should also show respect and dignity to their mentees, since they are experienced professionals themselves, and this will lead to an enriching experience for both parties.