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Choosing a mentor requires a good deal of thought. It is enticing to pick someone who is where you want to be monetarily; but that is one of the most common mistakes you could make when selecting a good mentor. While achieving a level of status is a consideration – everyone needs something to aspire to – it is not the only consideration. Here are some things you should think about when choosing a career mentor:
Choosing the right career mentor has everything to do with proper pairing. The first thing to think about is selecting someone who is doing what you want to do with your career. Choosing someone who is excelling in a different industry than the one you are in gives you someone to admire, but it doesn’t give you a mentor who can help you along because they have been exactly where you are.
It is also important to pick someone who achieved the level you want to get to. This serves as a reminder that you can achieve your goals if you persevere. Picking someone that you are friends with but who is at the same level as you or below will not give you the impetus you need to push ahead.
The person you choose to be your mentor must be available to you. The goal for working with a mentor is not to have someone open all the doors and clear all the roadblocks for you. It is to have someone who understands your industry and can serve as your sounding board as well as your beacon. If the person you chose is not available because of distance (your mentor should be someone you can see often) or responsibilities, set your sights on someone who is more accessible.
There is so much that you can learn from a mentor and the relationship between the two of you can be a mutually fulfilling one. Be sure to choose someone with whom you can align your goals. In this way you can maximize the knowledge available in their experience and tutelage.
In some careers, one of the most valuable things you can do is work with a career mentor. A career mentor is someone who's been in your chosen field for awhile and can help you maneuver through new situations while you gain experience. Sometimes a company will appoint someone to be a mentor to a new employee or sometimes a new employee will simply build a rapport with a veteran employee and the mentor acts in an informal capacity.
There are several reasons why having a career mentor is helpful for new employees:
1. Mentors can introduce you to other co-workers, this is especially valuable if you are shy about talking to new people
2. Mentors can help you make sure you are doing everything the right way and can help stop you from making little mistakes
3. Mentors give you a point person that you can form a bond with and someone that you can go to whenever you have questions, suggestions, or advice.
Figuring out how to ask someone to be your mentor is a lot like trying to ask someone out on a date, isn’t it? Your palms get sweaty, you are unsure of yourself, and you’re almost ready to abandon the whole effort without ever saying a word. It doesn’t have to be this nerve wracking. Here are some things to consider when asking someone to be your mentor:
All About Them
Starting the conversation with positives about them is a good way to get a potential mentor to listen to your plight. If you are serious about this person being your mentor, you will have done some research about them already. While you don’t want to rattle off a laundry list of trivia, showing the legwork you’ve put into the selection will go a long way to impressing your would-be guru. Their work experiences and accomplishments are a good starting place, but try to learn a little bit more about them. What are their motivations to do what they do? Where did they veer off track? How did they handle adversity? Having this type of knowledge in your back pocket can come in handy during the discussion.
All About You
Be sure to tell them why you are a good candidate for mentorship. Tell them about what you are doing now and where you see yourself in 5 years and then again in 10 years. Explain how your goals align with theirs, both past and present. This precise approach to presenting yourself as an opportunity rather than a charity case will not only bolster your feeling of self-worth but it will make your would-be mentor stand up and take notice.
Tell Them Why
‘You’re good. I’m good. It’s all good.’ But is it? Not yet. It’s not enough to tell them how great they are and how much you admire them. You have to show them why taking the time to mentor you is a good thing. A good mentor will spend hours of time with someone – hours they could be spending with their family or out golfing. Show them why they should spend that time with you instead. Partnership, tutelage, progression of goals: the works – show them how it benefits them and you at the same time.
Take a deep breath and go for it. You can do it. It just takes a little preparation.
When it comes to the world of professionals there are many ways to get ahead in your field of work. However, few of have proven more reliable than the guidance of a mentor. There are different ways to find a mentor- a boss, a professor, a friend of the family- but what if your ideal career mentor is someone you've never met? Granted, it's difficult to get a mentor when you don't have ties to that person, but it's not impossible. So let's take a look at how to approach them.
First, look for shared acquaintances. Being a 'friend of a friend' can go a long way in the business world. Find out if you share any friends or acquaintances with your ideal mentor. If so, why not approach that shared friend to stage a meeting? If not, look for other connections- alma maters, volunteer organizations, etc.
Second, send an email. There are three ways to contact a professional mentor: in person, on the phone, or on the computer. If the first two options feel too personal (or just impossible) go with the third option. Send them a well written email as an introduction to who you are. This is a great way to open the conversation that may just lead to them becoming your mentor.
Above all, you must never give up on your search for a mentor. Even if the initial people you approach turn you down, keep looking! The right mentor will come your way.
It can be unsettling to navigate the professional world without any help. Whether you're fresh out of college and just starting out, or you've been in your field for a while and feel stuck, a mentor can be a huge help in helping you overcome professional hurdles. Let's take a look at what a career mentor can offer you:
1. Guidance and Advice.
Having someone on your side that has been through the ringer a time or two can be of great advantage. A quality career mentor can provide you with the kind of guidance and advice that keeps you on the right path while focusing on your ultimate goals.
One of the most important things that a career mentor can offer you is the ability to meet people you otherwise may not have. Networking is everything in business, and knowing the right people can you take you further than hard work alone.
3. Goal setting.
It can be tricky to set realistic goals for yourself. A mentor can provide guidance and help you lay out your career road map. Once you see where you're going, you'll be able to take the appropriate steps to get there.
Finding a mentor to help guide you in your career path can be the difference between success and failure. It is no exaggeration that mentors have a lot to offer. So what should you do when, after weeks of research, the person you contact to become your mentor turns you down? Is it the end of the world? Should you find a different career path? Let's take a look.
1. Understand that you are not at fault.
There are a million different reasons that someone can turn down becoming your mentor. They may have already taken on another candidate or perhaps they are scaling back the amount of work they want to take on. In either case, don't take it personally. Understand that their denial isn't your fault.
2. Look over your materials and re-evaluate.
Now that you are back to square one, take a glance at the materials you pitched at your initial mentor. Is your resume in order? How about all of your networking information? Do you have a good presence and interview ability? If any of these questions lead to a 'no' then fix your problem areas, and get back to looking for a mentor!
3. Find another mentor!
Being that this career is your future, you should never settle. Don't give up looking for your mentor! Perseverance is tremendously important and can be the difference between a career and a job.
While we all hate the feeling of rejection, and are sure to experience it a ton over the course of our lives, it is important to never give up. Your mentor is out there. You just have to ask the right person.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|