Setting out on your professional path is an exciting adventure.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you had access to a Scout? Someone who has already been out there and explored the terrain, identified the risks, and found a successful path forward?
A mentor can provide you with the support you need to move forward professionally and personally.
It’s really easy to feel alone and isolated in the job search and in your career. Sometimes, we feel like no one else has EVER done this before. A mentor can help you connect to the realities of the job search and your career path. They can help you cope professionally and personally with the frustrations and work through rough patches to achieve your goals.
Additionally, a mentor has experiences that can help you make good choices in your own career. Their expertise can help you to make decisions about education and training, career paths, and how best to navigate your profession. They may also have experience balancing their life with their work in ways that can help you better understand and reach work-life balance.
In other words, a mentor has experiences and perspectives that can help you live a better life and improve your career opportunities.
Mentors come in many forms. Usually, they have at least one common trait with you; they might also be associated with the military. They might have the same background as you, or they might have made a career decision just like you are considering.
A mentor also usually has more experience with the career, lifestyle, or issue for which you are seeking advice. They might be a leader within your community or organization or a friend who has “been there and done that,” whether “that” means juggled kids and a career, switched careers, or started a new business. Cast your net wide when considering who might be a good mentor for you. However, all mentors should have the time, energy, and willingness to commit to the mentor-mentee relationship.
Mentoring also requires that you, the mentee, first understand what you hope to achieve through a mentoring relationship. Do you want someone to review documents for you? Help you practice your interview or public speaking skills? Provide you with networking opportunities or job leads?
Whatever you hope to gain from a mentor, you have to identify and communicate those goals to your mentor. Then, you and your mentor can set the terms of your relationship and enact a plan to achieve your goals. You may meet regularly to discuss your goals, participate in job shadowing, get oral feedback on presentations or writing, or meet with business connections.
Whatever the activity in which you participate, you and your mentor can move you towards your career goals…together.