In this post, Premier Environmental’s President, Dave Wade, recounts how mentorship in the early years of his career was crucial to building his professional future.
Do you know that January has been designated as Mentoring Month? While this was news to me, the concept of mentoring is not.
I think back to the early days of my career in the environmental science and engineering field, back to the late 1980’s and recall some of the senior and intermediate professionals who mentored me. While some are no longer alive, and most are retired, all who mentored me left lasting impressions that in many ways silently guide me through my working day.
I recall one senior geoscientist who instilled the value of knowing as much about soil and groundwater qualities/properties through the “doing it all approach”. Before I was allowed to supervise a drill rig in the field, I had to spend a full year and a half working in the soils lab so that I understood what the various types of soil looked like, how to properly classify them, and how to identify their physical properties through tactile and visual senses.
When I was allowed to collect soil samples from a drill rig, he showed me what those samples looked like insitu and why it was important to differentiate based on my lab training. There is no doubt that that experience made me a better technical professional over the years that followed, and it also taught me that hard work and attention to detail are the hallmarks of success.
Whether you are the mentee or the mentor, the benefits are, of course in the technical aspects of work, but can also be found in the relationships that are built. Both individuals are exposed to perspectives different from their own which allows growth and new ways of looking at challenges.
So if you get the chance to reach out to one of your mentors, thank them for what they have taught you. If you are lucky enough to be a mentor to another, go for it, you may be surprised at the subtle rewards that follow.