Friday, January 24, 2014

What is a mentor?

Ron Geiser
I didn’t call him a mentor. Didn’t see him as one who “took me under his wing,” providing guidance and direction leading to professional success in my chosen career.

He was my boss. He gave me jobs that needed done so he could focus on other projects.

Looking back, he was also a mentor.

As a student back in the 80’s, I worked as a writer for Ron Geiser in the Bluffton communications department. My beat was academic affairs and the music department. It was my responsibility make my way to College Hall and Mosiman Hall each week, gather information for future events and write news releases about them. I also wrote feature stories, a few of which appeared in the magazine.

I can still remember him shaking his head as he watched me write out a release longhand - with paper and pen - and then type the finished piece. He “encouraged” me to compose articles directly on the typewriter. What a time-saver and important skill for a future journalist/communications professional to learn.

Ron brought me back to Bluffton in a staff role in the 90’s. Again I didn’t see him as a mentor as he gave me the assignment to “desktop publish” posters and brochures using WordPerfect, an assignment which directly lead to other roles I would eventually serve in at Bluffton.

Ron also served as Bluffton’s sports information director for many years. It is for this role that he’s being inducted into the Bluffton Athletics Hall of Fame tomorrow night, along with athletes Becky (Reineke ’98) Boblitt and Bill Lape ’62. I’m really excited for him to be given this recognition.

A student once asked me to be her mentor.  I’m sure I gave her a “deer in the headlights” look while thinking “If I’m your mentor and you don’t succeed professionally, does that mean I’ve failed you?” That’s more responsibility than I want to take on.

But I will gladly be a supervisor and give assignments, and suggestions on how to do them well, so I can focus on other projects. Do them well and I’ll give you more challenging assignments. Then maybe, someday, you’ll look back and call me a mentor. And I’m OK with that.

That’s just one more thing I learned from Ron.

No comments:

Post a Comment