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The value of mentorships

Work together to ensure the industry remains successful

November 13, 2023  By Bob Dale

Mentoring arrangements are useful at all stages of our professional lives. Phto: © Nicholas Felix/ / Adobe Stock

Many people try to work out issues and overcome challenges with little research and after talking to an associate or two. We don’t dedicate time to make good plans. Major issues facing our industry are left to others to address, and if everyone thinks the same, nothing is done. If we want our companies and the industry to continue to thrive and prosper, people need to work together to make things happen, and progress!

That’s the value of industry associations, peer groups and mentors. Mentoring arrangements can be formal or informal. Informal can include working with someone who has knowledge, skill, and experience that you recognize and value. The person may agree to establishing an organized arrangement, which could be meeting for coffee periodically, and discussing business issues and challenges. It’s important that the purpose of the relationship and objectives are discussed, otherwise it would appear that the mentee is just using the mentor for information and advice.

When I was with a major financial institution, there was a formal mentoring program. People would volunteer to be mentors, indicate their interests and skills, and provide some background information. Mentees would also do the same and would be matched with a prospective mentor. In addition to business discussions, other issues like challenges related to being a woman, or ethnic minority in the workplace, may be discussed. If this is a requirement, then matching someone who has faced similar challenges would be preferred.


Many people do not realize, but mentoring arrangements are useful at all stages of our careers. The needs and focus may change, but the process is beneficial for many. Also, being a mentor to someone does not mean that you cannot also have a mentor of your own.

Print Wisdom

Students at the Toronto Metropolitan University can participate in the Print Wisdom mentorship program. This is a formal program available for second- to fourth-year students. Students register and provide a profile with their areas of interest, goals and indicate if a specific demographic profile for a mentor is preferred.

Each student is matched with a mentor and specific goals, objectives, and meeting frequency is established. 

Natalia Lumby, chair, Graphic Communications Management program said, “Mentors provide a new perspective into future careers and are another friendly face in this important transition time for students.”

Helping someone who is investing four years of their life to prepare for the graphic communications industry bridge the gap from an academic environment to how the technology and processes are managed in the business environment is an important task.

There can be discussion on companies in the different segments of the industry, application and challenges with technology, materials, people, approaches, and outcomes. Getting ready for a career will also involve making decisions on industry segments, roles, and responsibilities and how to navigate a career path.

Throughout this process it is important to respect confidentiality. Mentors are not to share confidential company information, and mentees must be aware they may be gaining insights that should not be shared.

After talking to many mentors for the GCM program, Lumby also commented, “Mentors are also often surprised by how energizing and fulfilling giving back can be.”

If you are interested in becoming a mentor for a student or another industry person, please contact me. Remember, many of the students are young women and would really enjoy connecting with women who have been in the industry for a few years and would be willing to spend some time and share insights.

To summarize, as Michelle Obama said, “Mentorship is not just about sharing advice, but also about sharing experiences and lessons learned.”   

Bob Dale is co-founder of Connecting for Results. He can be reached at

This column originally appeared in the September/October 2023 issue of PrintAction.

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