Speed Mentoring- Can it Work for You?

The importance of mentoring has been addressed often by Hack Library School contributors (here, here, and here). In an effort to learn more about how to obtain a mentor, I recently attended a Speed Mentoring Workshop presented by the Special Libraries Association (SLA) Maryland and D.C. chapters. What is speed mentoring, you ask? I had the same question.

Speed mentoring is based on the practice of speed dating but with less (or no) alcohol. Before the workshop, attendees filled out a brief survey on their career interests so workshop organizers could match them up with potential mentors in those fields. During the workshop each attendee (or mentoree?) got a chance to meet for five minutes with at least three potential mentors. Prior to the speed mentoring part of the workshop, there were also a few presentations about mentoring and an introduction of the mentors featured in the workshop.

This was the first time this group had hosted a speed mentoring workshop and there were some kinks. The mentors were located in three rooms on two different floors which caused logistical difficulties and although the time limit for each encounter was five minutes there was no enforcement mechanism and most meetings seemed to go over the allowed time. This caused back-ups and confusion as students waited around for their next mentor.

I did not find a mentor at this workshop but came away with a greater realization of the importance of the mentor/mentee relationship. I even have a potential mentor in mind and thanks to the workshop I have a better idea of how to engage with a mentor.

How about you? Have you ever tried speed mentoring? Would you set one up at your university?

Featured image licensed through Creative Commons

2 replies

  1. I haven’t tried speed mentoring, but I do like the concept. Perhaps this might work for people who are already in their careers and they know which area of librarianship they want to pursue. I like the idea of mentoring among peers better. This is a more relaxed aspect because all potential mentees are looking to make a connection and walk away with a tangible knowledge. An example of this is how some early career librarians may want to learn more about cataloging or how to create an online presence for a social group. All parties involve talk about what they want out of the relationship. The peer mentoring is fluid and can resemble 2-3 group members. Either way, I see more flexibility in having peers serve as a mentor, cheerleading soundboard. It is also refreshing to have someone who is not affiliated at your organization. Peer mentoring can serve as an extra support outside of your job and provide objective feedback. My peer group is diverse and flexible. I can work on projects, talk about the profession in general, and or learn from each other. The best thing that I like about peer mentoring is that it is not a forced relationship and it can be short term or long term. Each participant discuss what they need and work together to find an winning outcome. There are various ways to cultivate these peer mentoring model.


    • I like your suggestions! It is important to have professional support, even outside of your job. I’m interested in thinking about ways online students can also cultivate this. The responsibility falls on us to set up talks and chat with mentors a lot more than it does on-campus students, who can attend events set up through their school.

      Liked by 1 person

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