Working at a small non profit has the unique advantage of working closely with the executive staff — especially when there’s only three of them. That’s right, I sit across the table from the producers of Full Spectrum Features alongside our other interns on a daily basis. So if I didn’t write a blog post about mentorship, then that would indicate that I’m doing something wrong.
I’ve sought mentorship from not one staff member, but nearly all of them. Working closely with both the producers and program directors and assistants at Full Spectrum has afforded me the opportunity to learn from their experiences. And their experiences are manifold (especially considering three out of the four full-time staff members didn’t actually study film).
The first thing I’ve learned about making the most out of relationships with mentors is that it’s essential to demonstrate interest in their work. The process of developing a mentorship is certainly mutual. Though many of the staff serving as my mentors have made the effort to ask me what I’m most interested in learning and assigning me projects and tasks that align with those interests, my interests have expanded and changed from learning about their day-to-day work — as have my goals in the field I’m working in.
I initially went into this internship extremely open-minded with the intention of getting as much experience doing as many things as possible. However, lacking a clear sense of what I want to reap from the internship experience has left me with task that I’m not always interested in. Rather, taking initiative in exploring opportunities for areas of operation that I don’t have experience in have given me the chance to get to know different employees and learn skills that will be vital to the core set of interests I hold in the industry.
I’ve learned how to solicit donations, write press releases, work with different cast and crew members and executives on set, and most importantly: I’ve learned to ask questions. The more questions I ask, the more interest the staff take in enriching my knowledge of the industry with their experiences — from changing careers in mid-life, to getting rejected for grants. What makes the mentorships I’ve fostered so great is that they’ve taken interest in me, because I’ve taken interest in them.