There are many benefits associated with having a career mentor. A mentor is someone with more experience in their career than you, meaning that they can help you navigate through the politics, the difficulties and the ups and downs of the job. He or she can help you determine what your career goals are, and how you can reach them; help to develop your communication skills; engender more responsibility; and help you get ahead quicker. These all sound pretty good! So how do you go about finding someone to be your career mentor?
The first step is to determine what your short term career goals are. Do you want to improve your skills and knowledge, or do you want to get promoted? Knowing what your goals are will help you to clarify what you want to get out of a mentoring relationship. Do you want your mentor to help you advance in your career or do you want him or her to be a sounding board for your ideas?
Do you want guidance and advice? Do you just want someone to encourage you and cheer you on? Once you know what you want from your mentor, you will be able to figure out what qualities you will look for in that person. If you want someone who will help you to advance quickly in your career, you will probably look for someone who is more advanced in their own career. Someone who is at the same level as you is not going to be able to provide as much valuable advice and assistance since they have not yet traveled the path that you are looking to take.
Keep an open mind when choosing your mentor
It is beneficial to be open-minded when it comes to looking for a mentor. Mentors can be found in many different places: community leaders, spiritual leaders, older relatives and their friends. Be willing to use all of the contacts that you have to find someone to help you reach your objectives. Any of these people could have the career and life that you are looking to achieve for yourself. Look around for people that you know that you wish to emulate. Even if they are not in your field, they can still provide guidance.
Recruiting your mentor
When you find someone that you would like to be your mentor, you are going to have to approach that person about forming a relationship. These things do not necessarily form organically. Set up a meeting to talk about mentoring, and be as prepared as possible when you go. Have your career goals and objectives ready, know what you want from the relationship and what form you would like it to take (a weekly meeting is a lot different than a monthly phone call). Let them know why you have chosen them, and what you hope to get from the relationship. If the person agrees to be your mentor – they may not – ensure that objectives and guidelines are established right from the beginning. Both parties should be aware of what the relationship will entail and what each person is hoping to achieve from it.
If the person turns you down, do not be discouraged. There can be many reasons for this, and none of them means that you are not a good protégé. Simply thank the person for their time and consideration, and move on to another person that you would like to be your mentor.
Once a mentoring relationship has been set up, make sure to take responsibility for achieving your goals. The mentor can provide guidance and help, but it is up to you to put in the effort. Your mentor should not have to babysit you. That is not their job, and you are not going to get very far if you cannot motivate yourself and take responsibility for your own success.
Evaluate The Mentor Relationship From Time to Time
Evaluate the relationship every once and a while. Make sure that both parties are getting something out of it. If you are finding that your mentor is more bossy and controlling than you would like, you can consider terminating the relationship. It is important to remember that this is your career path, and the relationship should be mutually beneficial. If you are not getting the results that you were hoping for, it is reasonable to exit the relationship to find someone who will better be able to help you. Chances are good that if you are not satisfied, your mentor probably is not either.
A mentoring relationship can provide many benefits, including an outside perspective on your career and goals. If you find the right person and are open to constructive criticism, sharing your failures and mistakes, and hearing their advice, then you will have a fruitful mentoring relationship that will benefit you both.