06 Dec 2020

Why Mentor of the Year?

Written by Catherine Park

ITI's Mentor of the Year award category has struck a chord with members since it was launched in 2019.
Francesca Matteoda, winner of the Mentor of the Year Award 2020

We had another inspiring winner this year in Francesca Matteoda. Francesca is a mentor for the MedNet and ITI Spanish Network mentoring schemes. Mentees where full of praise for her approach and cited many factors that helped them to grow as translators, including well-chosen texts for translation practice; the quality of feedback; practical advice on coping as a freelance translator; her recommendations for useful additional resources; and giving them confidence.

We are looking forward to hearing about more great mentors this year. But why is this such an important part of ITI's awards programme?

Well, it’s because the right person giving the right advice and assistance at the right time can have a huge impact on the mentee’s skills, knowledge, and ability to cope with and thrive in their chosen job.

The typical image of the mentor/mentee relationship is someone with considerable experience helping an individual who is relatively new to the profession and ‘learning the ropes’.

But mentoring can be useful in all kinds of situations. It can help someone get back on track when they’re feeling a bit stuck or after a career break. It can give confidence when trying to move to the next level in your career or business. It can help you gain knowledge in an area in which you feel you are weak, for example translation technology or any technology tools that will help you in your work.

Mentoring can take all kinds of forms. It can be quite structured, like the schemes run by some of ITI’s regional groups and networks.

For example, in this Spanish Network scheme for mentoring new translators, mentors provide six one-hour feedback sessions on translations over a six-month period. The mentor receives a fee, with both the mentee and the Network making a financial contribution. This mitigates against potential mentor fatigue and means the work is dealt with in a business-like way.

Some training courses have a major mentoring element. For example, in ITI’s Setting up as a Freelance Translator programme, participants have direct access to eight practising translators who have successfully launched their own freelance careers.

Alternatively, you may meet someone in a networking group or via social media who is willing to provide advice on an ‘as and when basis’. Or you may have several different people you would go to, dependent on what the issue is. Being part of a co-working group could be a useful route to finding one or more mentors.

It’s important to remember that mentoring isn’t just about taking, it’s a two-way transaction. You may need to commit something back. This could be financial or giving some advice or help in return. And, of course, the mentor is learning from the experience too.

We should celebrate opportunities to recognise those who are helping others in the profession to develop their career, make their mark and deal with the challenges of an evolving sector. Just because mentors are not seeking recognition does not mean they will not be pleased to receive it. Winning the award in 2020 certainly meant a lot to Francesca: 

"I think that winning an award is always exciting, but winning an award THIS year in particular has been absolutely wonderful for me!

"2020 has been very challenging in more ways than one, so when I first heard that I had won the Mentor of the Year award I was thrilled, to put it mildly, and I would really like to thank ITI and all of the lovely mentees who nominated me for the award for making me feel that I have made an important achievement and am giving something back to the profession as well."

Do you know someone who has been a brilliant mentor for one or more people? Do you think they deserve recognition? Tell us about it. Find out more about this and other ITI Awards.

The closing date for the 2021 Awards is 15 February.