January 22, 2018
When I graduated college nearly three years ago, my fellow students and I felt a massive sigh of relief. We had done it! We had taken the tests and passed the classes and walked the stage in our cap and gown. Crossed the finish line. And even better for those of us with prospective jobs lined up: We knew where we were going. We had made it.
At least for a little awhile.
Navigating young adulthood — like anything else in life — can be confusing. Once you’ve settled into a full-time job, you begin to wonder where else life might take you, and that wonder can send you down a windy path of confusing dead-ends. So how can you avoid making the wrong decisions, or at the very least, letting those decisions lead you too far astray?
Growing up, I have always found huge value in connecting with my mentors. Whether that meant an older sibling, a parent or a teacher in school, taking learning one step further continuously presented itself with reward. A good mentor — anyone you learn from — can not only provide you with necessary support but can also open doors for you. Throughout a career, you will be faced with a variety of questions and concerns, and having a more experienced individual to guide you not only helps you make the right decisions but also gives you the confidence to do so.
Graduating college certainly does not mean you’re done learning. In fact, the best careers require life-long education and having a mentor along the way can be invaluable. Here’s why:
They’ve been there.
A mentor can relate to the struggles you’re experiencing, and even better, they’ve gotten through them themselves. Though they may not share your exact experience, they’ve been through this stage of a career and have a valuable perspective. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one going through something at the time, but you’d be surprised how many experiences are widely shared.
They have an objective opinion.
Talking to friends and family about your career can certainly be helpful, but it can also feel skewed and futile. A professional mentor can view your situation objectively because they’re not emotionally tied to your situation. Even better, they’re likely in your same industry and can provide you with advice that makes sense for your career.
They believe in you.
A mentor is not there to give you the answers, but they are there to believe in you. The hard work, the daily grind: those steps are on you. But it’s easier and much more gratifying to pursue your goals when you have a professional support system that propels you. The best kind of mentor is one that listens and leads you to where you already want to go.
Let’s never feel like we’ve “made it.” Let’s keep growing and learning and teaching and sharing, because what is more perfect than progress?