I have benefitted so much from mentor-mentee relationships. I also have been a mentor to a number of people both organically and not so organically.
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As a last born, I have almost always had the benefit of older siblings, cousins and their friends to help guide me through various seasons. It is no surprise then that professionally, I have often easily gravitated towards people who are where I would like to see myself so that I can learn from them.
There are different types of mentor/mentee relationships. I will be sharing this in another post. Today I would like to focus on why you need a mentor and how your career needs a mentor in order to advance.
So who or what exactly is a mentor?
There two main definitions I can across repeatedly from Oxford, Cambridge, Webster and Dictionary.com largely define a mentor as:
An experienced and trusted adviser; a trusted counsellor or guide;
A person who gives a younger or less experienced person help and advice over a period of time especially at work or at school
So why do you need a mentor?
1. Learn from their experience
One of the key reasons to connect with a mentor is that they are experienced and as such you can learn from their past failures and successes. If you're applying into medical school a mentor who has been trough the process can guide you. If you're aiming to get into management, a mentor can share their lessons learned in that journey and save you having to learn the hard way.
Given that a mentor is more experienced and more established in their field or career, they can be a key point of contact in meeting people. They can help you network by introducing you directly to people or sending your resume out. Remember that the key to professional establishment is relationship, relationship, relationship.
3. Provide guidance for specific decisions
When you're at the point of making a key decision in your career, a mentor can guide you. At particular career cross-roads you need advice from someone who understands the field and who has the necessary experience to guide you.
4. Pick their brain
Whether you're thinking of switching jobs, changing fields or going back to school for more education, a mentor can help you think through things that you may not have thought about e.g. programs that you are not aware of or rules/regulations that may have changed in the field.
There are times when you are discouraged in your career and you need someone who has been there and overcome the challenges you are facing to lift you up an encourage you. You may also be at the point of giving all up, quitting a job or leaving a toxic work environment. A mentor can play this role by giving you much needed perspective and also by encouraging you with their own story and/or stories of others who have been in your same situation and who got out of it.
Bottom line, you NEED a mentor to move your career forward. Very few people in professional settings are there purely of their own actions. We are all standing on the shoulders of those who went before us.
My next post will be on 5 things you need to do BEFORE you seek out a mentor. Subscribe to Career Slay Mama because this is an awesome community and you will be the first to know when the new blog drops!