If you are interested in having a successful career, then a mentor is a key strategy that should be included in your career plans. A mentor can help you prepare for the experiences you have not yet had. Things like how to give a big presentation, pitch and idea, or ask for a raise. Mentors also help bring reality to your thinking. A mentor can provide an additional perspective, so you can make balanced decisions.
The best mentors are people who have been successful. They usually want to give back in some way. The best place to find a mentor is your own workplace. Someone who is in a position you aspire to be in and whom you respect. You can also find mentors on Linked-in by looking for people who are in your industry. Another place you can find mentors is by volunteering for organizations you have an interest in. You will often find people with interests similar to yours, who are very willing to give back and would welcome the opportunity to work with you.
As a mentee, you should always start by giving. Offer to buy breakfast, lunch, or coffee. Offer to help out on any projects the mentor has or offer to help with their favorite charity. It is easier to give than to ask and it establishes a good foundation of mutual benefit. It also provides you with an opportunity to get to know a possible mentor. Once you have established a friendship, you will feel more comfortable asking for advice on how to approach a project, work with a peer, or polish your resume. You can also work with the mentor to help you organize work and life; review your presentations and papers, and many other various challenges you encounter.
It is ok to have more than one mentor. It helps to get different perspectives and different mentors will have strengths in different areas. It will also help you get more help without monopolizing the time of any one person. Even though they are willing to help, they will appreciate you be respectful of their time.
The best way to make the most out of a mentor/mentee relationship is to meet on a regular basis. This is key. Weekly 30 minute meetings are best, and they need to be scheduled for both parties. The mentee should always ask if there is anything they can do for the mentor. The answer is usually no, but offering strengthens the relationship and keeps it a mutual benefit for both parties. During the weekly discussions talk about goals, current projects, and challenges.
A mentor/mentee relationship can be helpful and fulfilling for both parties. Start by giving and making friends, and then you can ask for their time and advice.
“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” John C. Crosby