The value of mentoring and networking

Published 25 May 2017 by Daniel Lim MEIANZ, Victorian Division
Daniel Lim MEIANZ shares his experience with mentoring as both a mentor and mentee. Dan is Chair of the EIANZ Students and Early Careers (SEC) Sub-committee in Victoria and a member of the Institute-wide SEC committee. He is an Environmental Scientist at AECOM.

Back in 2015, I was fortunate enough to be a mentee in the inaugural intake of the Victorian EIANZ Mentoring Program, where I was paired with a senior ecological professional. In 2016, I had the pleasure of being a mentor in the second intake of the program, where I have been paired with an up and coming Masters student from the University of Melbourne. I have also had the privilege to administer the program (along with my fellow SEC Sub-committee members) which has thrown up plenty of challenges along the way as we evolve our offering and strive for continuous improvement.

Professionally, mentoring has been a very important part of my own career development. One key message that I learnt from the Mentoring Program Kick-off Breakfast events that I’ve attended has been that your entire career is made up of mentoring partnerships, formal and informal, that provide you with new perspectives, new approaches to challenges, and who can provide you with the support you need to grow as a professional. My mentoring partnerships have generally been on the more relaxed end of the spectrum, with many issues and challenges resolved over a good craft beer or two. Although this approach may not work for all, I really enjoy the social aspect of mentoring where I can freely discuss any professional challenges and see things from different perspectives.

Being involved in the mentoring program has also allowed me to meet a wide variety of environmental professionals and students at Mentoring Program events, through my mentor, and through an invitation to participate in a panel event. You’ll hear it all the time, and I’ll tell you again, you can never underestimate the value of networking! 

Since becoming a member of EIANZ in 2015, I have participated in the mentoring program, and volunteered in the National SEC Committee, Victorian SEC Sub-committee and Victorian Committee. While it requires effort and commitment, I have felt that my time has been very well invested and volunteering in various roles has opened many doors that may not have opened if I had not put myself out there. Playing a key role in establishing both the National SEC Committee and the Victorian SEC Sub-committee, and helping them both grow and develop has also been a very rewarding experience. If I had one piece of advice for students and early career professionals, it would be to put yourselves out there in a variety of contexts, from professional societies and professional networking events, to volunteering with charitable organisations. You never know who you will meet and where it may take you, but it’s always an interesting and rewarding journey!

About Victoria's Mentoring Program

The Victorian EIANZ Mentoring Program was first established in late 2015 and was modelled off the successful NSW program. The Victorian program runs for just over 12 months and is largely self-driven by the participants, who decide on the structure of their mentoring partnerships, meeting frequency, and other arrangements. They are given support in the form of a mentoring breakfast to kick off the program and provide helpful tips on how to establish a productive and supportive partnership. Further support in the form of social events and regular communication is also available. 

Find out more about mentoring in EIANZ >