If you ask an accomplished professional how they made it to where they are, chances are that they will point their finger to someone who was willing to invest time, energy and effort on guiding them through the right steps in their personal and professional life. The role of this person – aka “the mentor” – is to help someone (the “mentee”) to make a difference in his/her life and career and succeed while minimizing the chances to fail, by using their experience and knowledge. Mentors are masters on turning their good and bad experiences into learning experiences which will help them prevent unsatisfying situations from happening and/or turn challenges into opportunities. Therefore, it is very important for everyone while being in the first steps of your career to find someone who will show willingness to invest on you – and you should also be willing to invest on them – to help you successfully grow professionally and master your talents.
The most common mistake people make when their start their professional career is that they believe that what they learned during the university years is what they will be doing in a working environment. The truth is, while this knowledge is very crucial and may help you bring new ideas which may have an impact in the organization, it is very crucial also to understand that the corporate world hides many surprises. Usually, the theoretical approach you learned at the University is only 10% of what you will be doing at work; The rest will come with years of experience. During the first couple of years of the professional career, one may also find himself unable to make the right decision regarding an opportunity that may occur. Of course,
one should also understand that this is not to blame him or herself. It is just the lack of experience that puts them in such a situation. This is basically the reason everyone needs someone with more experience to guide them on how they should approach each opportunity in the right way or deal with unexpected challenges.
When and How Can a Mentor Help?
- If you face a situation at work and you are not sure how you should deal with it, chances are that your mentor may be able to help you because he/she most probably has been through the same situation in the past or at least knows someone who can help you.
- Since in most of the cases the mentor will be someone with more experience than you on the area you are operating, he/she will know what kind of additional investment on trainings and certifications will help you develop your talents in your personal and professional life.
- A mentor usually is someone who sits on a higher level of the career ladder than you. Therefore, he/she will have more easily access to career opportunities than you do. Your mentor can help you grab new exciting opportunities that you may never have been aware of. They can introduce you to the right network and/or events.
- A mentor can also help you make the right decision when the moment to take the next step in your career comes. With their experience and knowledge on the area you are working on, mentors can assist you with evaluating offers/opportunities and decide if they are worth the change or not. They can also help you master your negotiating skills when it comes to agreeing on the final terms of an offer.
How to Build a Strong and Reliable Relationship with Your Mentor?
Unfortunately, even today, many companies neglect the importance of mentorship and therefore, they do not offer such programs. Nevertheless, as mentorship is all about developing ourselves in a personal and professional level, one should not be afraid of seeking on his/her own for a mentor and find someone who will be willing and able to guide them throughout their development while avoiding making mistakes which could cost their career success. To do so, one can consider the following points which can help them make the right decision:
- Find someone who shares the same goals and ambition as you do. Thus, you will ensure that you receive advices from someone who strives for the same results as you.
- Have a conversation with your perspective mentor and make sure that he/she is willing to spend time, energy and effort on answering your questions and help you with issues that may arise. It is important that the mentor is dedicated on investing in this relationship.
- Realize that mentorship requires efforts from both sides. It is not only the mentor who should put energy and effort on mentoring you; it is also you who should invest in the relationship and show how dedicated you are to this process.
- Respect your mentor’s busy schedule and adjust your personal schedule to it. It may not be always the case that the meeting with your mentor will take place during work. Sometimes it may be necessary to meet after work or even during weekend. Be willing to sacrifice some of your personal time to benefit from your mentor’s experience and advices.
- Set realistic expectations – make sure you understand that a mentor is not your supervisor or your coach. Do not run to your mentor for everything. You should have a clear view of what the responsibilities of each party are. Thus, you will help yourself and your mentor to work within a healthy professional relationship.