As you have read from previous posts, Mentor (dedicated to the subject) and others where I mentioned the subject, having a mentor is important. Over the years, so many people have asked how do you even find a mentor so I decided to share some thoughts on ways to find and choose one.
Where do you look to find a mentor?
- School is a great place to find a mentor at all levels, grade school to grad school although I would avoid a current teacher or professor as they are involved in your actual performance. Once you have moved on from their class it is fine. Teachers are natural mentors and have seen so many mistakes and successes over the years on top of just being able to relate.
- The workplace is good especially if you are working in a job that is related to the career path you are interested in. Some employers have formal programs that you can request to be a part of that will pair you with a mentor. Even if there isn’t a formal program, ask someone, don’t be afraid. Most will be honored to be asked and if they cannot commit they will be honest and tell you they cannot.
- Someone you look up to in your family or community, although, I would avoid your immediate family as at times they will not be objective and you want your mentor to be. Find someone who models what you want.
- Formal mentoring programs like The Fairy Godsister that focuses on females is just one of the great programs that are available. These formal programs do a wonderful job to match mentors and mentees with research on the individual. The commitment is typically one year and while not overly formal in the way you hold your meet-ups, it offers resources and help along the way if needed.
Now that you have some ideas on where to find a mentor, how do you choose? Here are tips I suggest in your search, these have always worked for me:
- A connection of some kind. Can you see yourself spending time with this individual and opening up about situations, concerns, and the like.
- Something in common. This could really be anything.
- Someone to aspire to. This could be that person that you see that has the kind of life and work that you would like to have.
- Similar communication style. You match up well to keep conversation going and you can agree on a good way to communicate- oral and written.
- Not too bossy, controlling, or judgmental. The idea of a mentor is to guide not to tell you want you need to do or get upset when you do not to something they want.
- Be sure they can commit. A mentor relationship is time-consuming, make sure the person you choose will have the time to commit to regular check ins.
The most important thing is to ask yourself why you want a mentor and this will help you decide where to look and how to decide on one. Three good buckets for mentors are ones who offer advice, ones that can help you with connections, and lastly one that is just a sounding board. I know many individuals that have a few mentors for different things they need career goals, personal goals, fitness, and more. Once you have gone through all of this and you have identified that individual you would like as a mentor be sure you as well are ready to commit and always follow-up. Make the mentor’s time worth it and you will gain so much and they will as you reciprocate in the relationship.