but for women in the workforce to benefit from the guidance and the experience of their more seasoned counterparts. As a mentor to young girls, I believe it is my responsibility not only to inject educational advice and positivity, but also to lend an ear. As a young entrepreneur, I seek to have a similar relationship with those who serve as my mentors.
Having a professional mentor can be an invaluable experience. Learning in the workforce can take on many dimensions. Employees are often coached by their superiors as it relates to their specific job skills. However, there is a need for more than this hard skill coaching. Individuals often need someone who they can go to who has been where they are and can offer the type of advice which they cannot find in their academic textbooks that taught them everything they were supposed to know about their field. This invaluable person who can share this knowledge is a mentor.
Mentorship can be either informal or formal and can take on many dimensions. Regardless of the type of mentoring relationship that you have with your mentor, mentorship is voluntary and mentors provide some level of guidance, counseling and support.
The mentorship experience can be invaluable for both the mentor and the mentee. The mentee will benefit from the experience and wisdom of their mentor and the mentor will benefit from building their leadership skills while gaining the satisfaction of helping someone achieve their professional goals.
Developing a relationship with your mentor may take time. Depending on your mentorship goals, there may be a need to build trust and this is something that will occur over time.
Here are five important questions to consider when choosing a mentor:
1. What is your goal? First decide what you want to get out of your relationship with your mentor.
2. Do your styles match? Choose someone whose professional and personal style you admire.
3. Is there a mentorship program at your place of work? Check to see if your company has a mentorship program in place. This may provide you with options for mentors related to what your mentorship goals are.
4. Have I looked within my community? Remember that mentors do not have to come from your work environment or be in your direct field.
5. How can I try out this relationship? Before you ask someone to be your mentor, ask them for advice on something specific and see how the interactions go. This will give you an idea of what it is like to work with and get feedback from your potential mentor.
In keeping with this month’s theme of Thankfulness, it’s important that I mention that once you develop a relationship with your mentor, be sure not to forget to be thankful. Mentors take time out to help you and a quick thank you email or offering to buy coffee or lunch will likely be a welcome gesture. Happy mentor hunting!
Note: Finding a Mentor was initially published in November 2013 in the COCO Magazine.