The days of getting a degree and working in one field into retirement are long gone. While there’s no clear consensus as to the number, recent reports suggest that people now change careers several times throughout their professional lives. Such a shift requires working people to constantly develop new skills and pursue new opportunities.
Having a mentor can help you gain the skills and connections you need to continue on your career journey. Read on to learn what a mentor can do for you and how to make the most of a mentor relationship.
Why Having a Mentor Is Important for Career Growth
Despite the talent shortage in the tech industry, transitioning into your next role may not be as simple as learning some new skills.
Having a mentor can mean the difference between advancement and stagnation. Having a mentor means:
- You gain access to industry insights and expertise from someone in a later stage of their career
- You have someone to help channel your ambition into actionable steps
- You get someone to help you market yourself by building a strong resume or a personal brand
These benefits alone would be enough to make a mentor relationship worthwhile, but they barely touch on what’s possible. Your mentor can give you unique guidance through the job search period and beyond.
How To Find and Choose a Mentor
Your mentor is likely to be in one of three groups of people: those you know, those in your network, or those you connect with through a career mentorship program. Think of a few people you trust from each group and make a list of them.
The qualities you should look for in a good mentor are about the same no matter where you find them. That’s good news because you can use a few simple criteria to help you narrow down your list of potential mentors. Look for:
- Someone who can give constructive feedback
- Someone who doesn’t judge you for asking questions
- Someone who is further along your chosen career path than you are
A career mentor with all three of these traits is well-positioned to help you reach your career goals.
How To Benefit From a Mentor Relationship
Having an idea of what you need will help you benefit the most from a mentor relationship. Here are a few of the greatest benefits that you can expect to find:
- Resources: A good mentor will often have a robust professional network that they can leverage to help you advance quicker
- Accountability: For a lot of people, having someone to hold them accountable makes all the difference in achieving their short-term goals
- Guidance: When you’re dealing with a potential setback, a mentor will act as a sounding board and offer advice that keeps you on track
Of course, you’ll have to do your part to gain these benefits.
If you’ve found a good mentor, you should be honest with them about what you’re dealing with so that they can offer the best possible advice. After that, be a coachable student by acting quickly on the guidance they give you.
How To Have a Successful Mentor Relationship
Reaping the benefits of learning with a mentor depends on your ability to treat the relationship properly. Here are a few tips to help put you on the right track:
- Respect the time commitment it takes to help you by taking advice seriously
- Maintain a long-term relationship by showing your enthusiasm for what you’re learning
- Look out for ways that you can help your mentor achieve their goals
- Share your wins with your mentor when something they tell you is helpful
Your mentor is there to guide you and offer perspective with your best interests in mind, which means they’re going to try to steer you away from potential pitfalls. They’ll offer feedback that will help you hone in on your strengths and shore up your weaknesses.
This may be uncomfortable at times, so remember that a good mentor will never tell you anything without purpose.
Ideas for Finding a Mentor
The best way to find a potential mentor is to look where you know they’ll be. Let’s say you want to find a mentor in data science, for example. Here are some things you can do to find them:
- Look within your company: Reach out to a senior colleague or supervisor who works in your desired field to start a relationship.
- Attend meetups: Going to local events for people who do the work that interests you is a great way to meet someone who could become a mentor.
- Join professional networks: Groups of professionals, whether online or in-person, can help you connect to the right people.
- Find a mentoring program: Work with an organization that exists to connect young professionals to people with more experience.
These are all different approaches, but what they have in common is that they give you the opportunity to meet people, ask questions, and develop relationships that could eventually develop into mentorships.
Are you ready to take control of your future?
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