Wednesday, May 28, 2008

MT Mentors are Essential for Effective Training!

"Those who educate children well are more to be honored than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well." Aristotle

"So, who's your mentor?" There is a question that needs to be asked every time we notice a fresher MT excelling on the production floor.
Many have undergone some sort or the other of MT training only to find themselves unable to get into a proper job. Jobs in the ask-me-no-questions types of operations typically do not pay on time and whole units tend to suddenly fold up and disappear leaving their employees with debts in hand and wondering why they ever thought of doing MT in the first place.

On the other hand, the established companies can expect to pick up people who have a couple of years of experience behind them (the survivors) and these comps will have little patience with beginners. You are expected to quickly get used to the formatting and client specs, and get on with regularly turning out high quality work. In other words one should already be a "PROFESSIONAL".
A good MT training program should coach you to at least a 95% accuracy level. Many companies, on the other hand, expect starters to be able to deliver 98.5% and better. Once you have completed your theory and are fluent in processing skills, it is the accuracy that has to be worked on, and here you will find it that much easier to progress if under the tutelage of a good mentor.

There is therefore a gap between what a 'fresher' can hope to accomplish and what the hiring firms require. Bridging this all-important gap is largely the job of the mentor. Almost regardless of the length of training, turning trainees into professionals takes more than just X hours of LOM, Y hours of English, and Z hours of hands-on lab time. Formulaic systems will work only for self-starters and each student is an individual, thus an essential part of mentoring is to get to know the individual, and to tailor the training process to maximum effect. It is very important in this process to get each of the trainees to be in constant touch with their mentor.
For example, at Phoenix, we assign homework files and we expect our students to be on-line with us on IM while they work. It is the nature of the job anyway for trainers to be online with their own production work, so having trainees come through with a few Qs now and then is not any great sacrfice. In fact, it is this highly personalised training that has helped so many of our students comfortably and quickly become thorough professionals. One of the very first things that I do when starting a class is to share email and IM IDs with the batch and encourage them to do the same. I insist that I should have one ID for each student (specifically created if necessary) and then I always check to see that I am 'getting through' with that.
Mentoring can not happen effectively when batches are large. At Phoenix we stop at a maximum size of 10, and no instructor is allowed to handle more than two batches at a time - this is about what's manageable if we are serious about really mentoring and not just doing some form of training just to get by.

But mentoring is more than just the occasional on-line help. Mentoring requires a lot of involvement. The most fundamental determination for the mentor to make is whether the individual is going to succeed and what this individual needs to do to actually succeed. Yes-anyone can become an MT, but only those who have the dedication and drive will actually make it.

Mentoring also means helping the students to learn to help themselves. Relationships between batchmates are a great boon. We have found that forming strong bonds of friendship between batchmates leads to greater and faster success in the workplace. These networks, once formed, can help for a whole lifetime!

If you have never had a mentor in MT then we would encourage you to find one. You will be amazed to find the difference that it makes especially for freshers. For those who are more experienced, why not share your experience with any who want to learn? Mentoring can be demanding but ultimately is very fulfilling to do. So many of my old students are still in touch even though their need for mentoring no longer exists. Give it a try!
Apart from Phoenix, there are other websites and online communities that you can join where the all important 'instant help' of mentors can be accessed. Write in to us for more details...

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