Mentoring is not the same as coaching, teaching or training. It is a relationship, initiated and led by you, the ‘mentee’ to enhance your personal and professional development. If you need an ally in your battle for a competitive job and want someone to champion your success, a mentor could be the answer.
It may sound like an outdated business strategy, but a mentor can be a great resource, especially if you find one who has navigated your industry before and has ample experience. This individual is a prime source of support, constructive criticism, and unbiased advice when it comes to your job opportunities, workplace conflicts, and much more. A common misconception about mentorship is that these people are often individuals you have met before, or friends or even co-workers. Not the case anymore. There is a movement of people choosing to hire "mentors" or "business coaches" and that's a great idea too! Anyone you can have in your corner is a sure fire gate to success.
Does everyone need a mentor?Any student can benefit from working with a mentor from their chosen industry. However, they can be particularly helpful for those who have no connections in the sector they’re targeting. Those, for example, who are looking to break into extremely competitive areas such as banking or law or those who may lack confidence in their chance of success. A mentor can work with you over a period of several weeks or even months to achieve your goals – whether that’s finding work experience in a niche area with no internships, or landing a role as a runner with a media production company.
But they’re not going to just give you a job are they?No, of course not. Mentors may not be in a position to influence the recruitment process but they can talk to you candidly about their own experiences and give you practical advice and guidance. It can be very difficult to know if a role is definitely right for you. By working with a mentor in the sector you can get detailed information about their career paths, and they can help you bounce ideas around.
Championing your causeKnowing that your mentor is interested in you, and keen to help you achieve, can be extremely powerful. If you’ve been doubting your abilities, your mentor can help you take a reality check, and if they encourage you to pursue your dreams, then go for it! Let’s face it – those who are working in the industry are well placed to know what your chances of success are.
Being professionalMentors are very special people in that they give their time freely, with no self -interest to help others. It’s therefore essential that you respond promptly to your mentor, acknowledge how precious their time is and thank them for their support. You never know when you might come across them again, so make sure you leave a great impression.
Here are 12 ways a mentor can help you during 4 general stages of your career:
Stage 1: Newbie: Your Mentors Help You Acclimate to a New Job or Work Environment:
1. Find Your Way and Learn the Rules: The mentor can offer advice on how to best navigate in the new work environment and give information about the people and politics. A mentor within your company can help you understand corporate expectations—both spoken and unspoken rules. They can point out mistakes if they see you in action. Your mentor can help you feel comfortable operating within that environment.
2. Identify your skill set and anything missing that you need to work on. This can range in everything to suggesting time management seminars, read a book that changed their career path or suggesting a social media account to follow and get insights.
3. Model what works: Ask your mentors to share their stories of what’s worked in their careers and what hasn’t. Learn from your mentors’ experience.
Stage 2: Strategic: Your Mentors Help You Plan Where you are Going for a More Successful and Fulfilling Career:
4. Create a Vision: A mentor can help you think about where you want to go in the long run and what can help you get there. This type of mentor can be someone in your workplace, someone in your field, or more of a general business coach, perhaps even someone you hire.
5. Look for Resonance: A mentor or coach can help you assess how well your current environment fits your values, skills and interests. You will be happier with a job and environment that resonates.
6. Help you define success: Long term success is not only about what a company or environment defines as success. Sometimes as women and entrepreneurs group goals, our relationships and contribution to a larger cause are all important to feeling fulfilled in our careers.
Stage 3: Mobile: Your Mentors Help You At Key Decision Points
7. Solve Problems: You can turn to your mentors for feedback on any challenges you are experiencing, offering possible solutions to problems, as well as general strategies that have worked for them in similar situations.
8. Evaluate Job Offers: You may be offered a job within your own department, another part of your company or even your own company. Sometimes it’s hard to see all the ramifications of taking a particular job—both for short-term fit and also for its long term strategic value. A mentor can help you see all angles and evaluate the fit.
Stage 4: Successful: Your Mentors Help You Get Where You Want to Go:
9. Help You Network: Mentors can introduce mentees “to potential allies and champions.”
10. Get You Noticed: Sometimes you can learn strategies from your mentor that led to promotions. Your mentor can teach you ways to raise your visibility in an authentic way.
11. Your Mentors Can Serve as Sponsors: At the upper echelons, it’s not just about mentoring. To get promoted, we may need sponsors who are willing to introduce their mentees to the right people and suggest them for promotion.
12. Look Outside Your Company: External mentors in your field can help you look beyond your company for opportunities. They may help you decide what you are looking for, introduce you to contacts of theirs, or even help you get into their own organizations.