June 11, 2018
Whether you are new in your career, looking to grow as a professional or wanting advice on career advancement, a mentor can be invaluable.
A good mentor can become a go-to source of wisdom and support. Someone who has the knowledge and skills that experience can provide. Someone who is willing to share those experiences and knowledge to help you grow professionally.
Mentors can help you network, give you suggestions on how to brand yourself, and give you fresh perspectives on industry issues. They can offer encouragement, coach you on career moves, guide you through difficult situations or even simply give you advice on how to handle that upcoming presentation.
Mentors are also great sounding boards and can help you work through ideas, pitches, designs and more. They can help you stay motivated and illuminate new paths that you might not have known were there.
Imagine trying to do all of that alone. With no help or advice. Seems like a pretty difficult road doesn’t it?
But you can’t just sit back and expect your mentors to solve your problems for you. They aren’t there to do your work or give you all the answers. Having a mentor does not guarantee that you will climb up the ladder. You will still need to work hard. But a good mentor can and should offer support to help you be the best that you can be and make your professional life more enjoyable.
I once worked at a place where people were randomly assigned a mentor. While it worked for some people, it didn’t for others. I suggest taking your time to find someone that feels like a natural fit for you. Some of the best mentor/mentee relationships happen organically. You may look up to someone and purposefully seek them out to be your mentor. Or you may just end up with a great connection to a senior member on your team or within your company and your mentor/mentee relationship grows naturally. No matter how it happens, there are ways to foster this relationship.
Not everyone wants to be or has time be a mentor. Which is why I think it’s difficult to be assigned a mentor. I think it’s important for both parties to know that it takes time to nurture a mentor/mentee relationship and both of you need to make the commitment it takes to achieve the goals you set together.
This goes both ways. A mentee should always be willing to listen to a mentor’s advice. A mentor has experienced situations that you can learn and grow from. Be open-minded and willing to listen to their advice and suggestions. On the flip side, the mentor should always be willing to listen to the specific needs of their mentees and not just deliver a cookie-cutter approach since everyone’s career paths are different.
What do you hope to gain? Be clear on why you are seeking out a mentor and define what things you’d like to learn. Manage your expectations and build trust with one another. A mentorship doesn’t work if you don’t trust and respect the person you have chosen as a mentor.
Good mentors are driven by the knowledge and satisfaction that they have helped people in their careers. If you have had the benefit of working with a great mentor, you know how instrumental the guidance has been to you. Keep it going and pay it forward. Become a mentor to someone who is starting out in your industry and offer up your experience.
Not only does mentoring help you further your career goals, it helps you generate connections and develop friendships. The impact of a great mentor is extremely beneficial and will stay with you throughout your entire career.