The word “mentor” has its roots in Greek mythology—Homer’s Odyssey to be exact—but the importance of this concept to career success is no myth. An experienced colleague, known as a mentor, can provide invaluable help to you as you begin your career and advance in it.
When you are starting out you obviously know very little. Don’t be offended it is nothing personal. It’s not you, just your lack of experience. You’ll probably make a lot of mistakes and you may miss out on many opportunities, but you can limit how often this happens by finding yourself a good mentor.
You have a lot to gain by developing a relationship with a seasoned colleague who is willing to share his or her wisdom with a protégé (that would be you). A mentor can guide you through tricky situations and can provide helpful advice about growing your career. And don’t worry about this relationship being too one-sided. Your mentor will hone his leadership skills by helping you.
What Can Your Mentor Do for You?
- Your mentor can help you navigate tricky situations you may encounter at work and can help you figure out what to do about them. Whatever you’re going through, there’s a good chance he/she has been through the same thing or knows someone who has.
- He/She can help you score coveted invitations to industry events and introduce you to influential people in your field. I find this to be one of the best upsides to having a mentor. Networking is key!
- Your mentor can alert you to new job opportunities that only those in his/her position may be privy to. If your mentor consults for major companies, or is in a top leadership position, they may just offer you the position knowing that you are working towards growth and are hungry for a better opportunity.
- He/She will know what skills will help you do your job better and can tell you how to acquire them.
- If you are offered a promotion within the same company or a new job at another, your mentor can help you decide whether or not to accept it.
- He/She can help you decide when to ask for a raise and then give you advice about how to do it properly. Everybody wants to make more money, right?!?
How to Find a Mentor
Now that you’ve learned about what a mentor can do for you, you probably want to find one as soon as possible. If you are lucky enough to work for a company that has a formal mentoring program, you might be matched with someone when you start your job. Some companies that have such programs don’t make these matches automatically, so if you aren’t introduced to someone shortly after your first day, inquire about whether such a program exists.
If the organization you work for doesn’t have a formal program, then you will have to look for a mentor on your own. At MCDA we have top consultants from all types of industries that are willing to mentor the right people. We have leaders from Aerospace, Agriculture, Business Development, Sales, Medical, Hospitality, etc. Call us today and we can pair you up with the right person for YOU.
Tips for Having a Successful Mentor – Protégé Relationship
- Choose a mentor whose goals are similar to your own.
- Find someone who is in the same career as you.
- Make sure your mentor has an adequate amount of time to give to this relationship. Can he/she meet with you on a regular basis? Is he/she receptive to answering questions or helping with issues as they arise.
- Take the initial step in establishing contact with a potential mentor since you are the one who will benefit the most from the relationship.
- You must find the time to participate in the relationship with your mentor. For example if your mentor wants to meet with you before or after work, don’t make excuses about not having enough time. Make time.
Eventually you will be in a position to give advice to someone who is just starting out. Honor your mentor by paying it forward and doing for another person what he or she did for you.