Whether you’re an intern or have been with your company for several years, you could benefit from having a mentor. Why? Because we all have room for growth. We don’t know what we don’t know, but by forming a relationship with a mentor, you are setting yourself up for greater success. If you can learn from an experienced and trusted advisor, you will gain a more well-rounded perspective.
Defining a Mentor
A mentor is typically someone who works in your field and has a few more years of experience than you do. Mentors meet with their mentees on an established schedule, both in formal and informal settings. During these meetings, mentors offer advice, share contacts, recommend resources and reading material, and generally provide guidance and direction.
Successful mentor relationships can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years. And while one normally thinks of the mentee as the only beneficiary of this experience, mentors also benefit from this opportunity. When a mentor explores their experiences and what they’ve learned in their career, it reinforces the value and significance of those events. It also gives them the chance to help someone learn from their own past mistakes and provide the mentees with an example worth following.
How to Find a Mentor
Some mentors are connected to sponsorships or specific programs while some companies encourage younger employees to seek out mentors within their departments. There may even be a formal request for mentoring assignments through your Human Resources office. If those formalities are not in place, you may need to reach out to someone outside your company, someone who’s taken his or her career to the places you’d like to take yours. When you reach out to this person for the first time, don’t be shy, and remember that most people are flattered and honored when asked to be mentors. But at the same time, be clear about your expectations so there is a clear understanding from the beginning as to what you are hoping to gain from these meetings.
Establishing a Meaningful Relationship
When you meet with your mentor, listen carefully to the advice given, take notes, and demonstrate the qualities of a diligent and receptive student. Be flexible and open to whatever comments are offered. Keep your questions clear and focused — this will ensure the conversation stays on track. Show appropriate thanks and appreciation for the time and guidance given. If you need answers to specific questions, ask. Respect your appointments, and always keep your mentor updated on your progress.
For more information about mentoring programs and how to gain professional insights from the experience of others, contact
our career development experts at Palmer Group.