Having a mentor is a fantastic way of leveraging a new perspective to get your career on the right track fast. You are able to tailor career guidance with a senior person that has already the experience you are trying to get.
If you are reading this blog, it’s probably because you feel in need of some sort of guidance in terms of staring your career off on a good note or keeping the momentum you’ve already got. I have found that reading blogs can be very helpful because they are brief, on point, and they can address a fairly broad range of topics, but they usually only serve as inspiration as they don’t go deep enough. To get further details you might consider reading a book that can go one step further into the details and provide you with a better understanding. However, books have the disadvantage that they are not interactive. You can also take a course and get both great insight and interaction with an expert and other students. Unfortunately, courses are usually very expensive.
Mentors, on the other hand, come with a long list of advantages and very few disadvantages in terms of being a source of guidance, advice, and inspiration for your career. The advantages include
- Tailored process to your needs
- You control exactly what to discuss and how broad and how deep you would like to go into the matter
- The talks are not limited to work, but you are able to include things such as how to balance work and spare time
- The mentor will come to know you and thus be able to adjust his or her approach to fit your needs
- Full confidentiality both ways, so you are able to open up completely
And I bet there are many more, but these are the most important ones I have observed.
On the flipside, a mentor is not always an expert on all the different topic you would like to discuss, but a good mentor will typically be able to discuss it with you in overall terms and together you can find out how to get the information you need. Sometimes the mentor might even have some connections that may be able to help you instead.
I have used mentors during my studies, after my studies, and I expect I will continue to have a mentor for quite some time to come. For example I have used a mentor for helping me figure out my process for applying for my first job after my university studies. I got answers to questions like “What jobs should I be looking for?”, “What should my CV include?”, and “How should I prepare for my first interview?” etc. Having a mentor have helped pushing myself further through facilitation by a person more senior than me providing me with input, sparring and challenging me where my peers just wasn’t enough.
What can I use a mentor for?
Help on basically anything you would like to achieve and where you are not quite sure on how to do it. A mentor cannot solve the problem for you, but help you set your thoughts straight and make a plan on how to get to where you want to be. E.g. you can use a mentor for getting your first job, for figuring out how to change career direction, or for planning your way to becoming a manager etc.
Where can I find a mentor?
Mentors are everywhere. If you are a student, try looking for companies offering mentorship programmes, within your university organisations, the career centre or alike places. If you are no longer a student, try looking within your own company. They might have formal programmes otherwise it’s possible to just contact a person that you think would make a good mentor. Look for one on LinkedIn or maybe through unions within you industry.
More on mentoring
In later posts I will dwell a bit more on mentoring. Look forward to posts on
- How to get the most out of your mentoring process
- Benefits of being a mentor yourself
Until then I give my warmest recommendations for becoming a mentee as soon as possible to increase the odds of getting into the fast track of your career.