In your first few years post-college, finding a mentor is crucial. Where do we start, though?
What exactly is a mentor?
A mentor is a person not connected to your day-to-day work who uses their related experience to guide you through your career. They aren’t tied to your work objectives, and can provide an unbiased perspective on what they would do in a situation. Your very own Jack Donaghy.
In all seriousness, a great mentor is often in the same field or in a role you aspire to, so who better to tell you how to get there? Not only will they help your career to thrive, but they’ll be able to share their stories of similar hurdles and what has worked for them. Are you sold yet?
If you want to get one, here’s how to begin.
Start out by thinking if there’s someone who already occupies this role in your life. A mentor should be someone you’re comfortable with, so if there’s someone you’ve already had these kinds of conversations with, they’re a natural first step. Things you should look for in a mentor:
- They are the kind of person you want to be. They don’t necessarily have to be in the same field, but your mentor should be someone you look up to. They uphold the morals and values you aspire to, and will keep you honest to who you want to be.
- They’re invested in you and want you to succeed.
- They’re not your direct boss or largely invested in the decisions you’re making.
- They have a strong network.
- They have a style of advice that works for you, whether that be helping you towards change or giving you some tough love.
Overall, think about what you’re trying to get from the relationship and tailor your search towards that. If you’re looking for someone to give you insights to build the career you dream of, begin by finding someone in a related field. If you’re just looking for a guide to assist in decisions and hold you accountable, their personal integrity is paramount.
Don’t know anyone?
If you’re struggling to find someone to step into this role, begin by asking people you trust whether they know anyone within your parameters. They may be able to introduce you to a friend in a related field who has thrived. If there isn’t someone who is a clear fit and you go through a third party, don’t jump into it assuming the recommendation will be a match. Successful mentoring relationships happen naturally, so if you’re still working to find yours begin by having coffee to pick their brain. After a few meetings, you’ll know whether this person is a good fit and you can ask them to officially be your mentor.
Most of all, don’t be afraid to ask. Most professionals have had a mentor at some point in their life and are happy to pay it forward. People love knowing that they’re now the experts, so start by flattery and asking them if you can learn from some of their many achievements. The biggest disservice you can do to yourself as a young professional is to worry about inconveniencing others. The worst that happens is they say no.
That’s it! So get started with finding your mentor and come back to 20Something for more ways on how to begin that perfect mentoring relationship soon.