Jared Schmidt, Minn. ’04 reflects on his time mentoring Lucas Glissendorf, Minn. ’13
Mentoring has always been such an odd thing for me. I’ve been volunteering as a mentor for three years now with the U of MN College of Design. Each year, without fail, I end up with this nagging sense that I should have done or given more to the mentee with which I was paired. The reason for this is simple: each year, I am sure I get more out of the exchange than they do.
With active chapter president Lucas Glissendorf as my mentee for the 2011-2012 school year, this fact was more glaring than ever before as I found myself humbled by the schooling he gave me in ambition, creativity, insight, and indeed myself.
In a moment of self-doubt, you may ask, as I have asked myself, “what qualifies me to be a mentor?” Well, the thing is, nothing in particular really does. We may assign these labels, but in the end I’ve found, I end up learning just as much as the person to whom I am supposed to be bestowing my “wisdom”. The fact is humans learn more, and learn better, through spontaneous informal interaction than they ever do through training, educational curricula, or authoritative direction. Research shows we learn nearly as much through what is known as legitimate peripheral participation – or in other words, just overhearing things the people around us are talking about. Knowing this eases the burden of mentorship immensely, as you realize; all you really have to do is expose one another to different opportunities and experiences and—voila—congratulations you’re a mentor! It’s really so easy that, oftentimes, you don’t even know when you are doing it. This is the secret to mentoring and one of the many reasons I love this fraternity. If nothing else, this fraternity is a platform for this type of informal mentorship between all brothers. I’ve learned something from every single brother I know and now know myself and the world around me all the better for it. In fact, it was the pointed observation of one particular brother regarding my ill-behavior that, I can happily say, turned my life around forever. For that, there is no amount of gratitude and appreciation that could suffice.
I can only hope that I offered a glimmer of such nuggets of inspiration and wisdom to Lucas this last year as I invited him to participate in client meetings, visit project sites, and meet my own mentors in the field of architecture. But I fear that once again the scales are tipped in my favor, as I find myself reflecting back at all I have learned from the experiences and opportunities to which he exposed me.
Oh well, I guess I’ll try again next year. I hear there is another young up-and-coming architect in the active class…
– Jared Schmidt, Minn. ’04