As someone who is at the very beginning of their career or advancing in one, graduating from college and entering the workforce or taking a leap as a first-time entrepreneur, you may have heard of seeking out a mentor to gain knowledge and support growth. Unfortunately, mentorship is not a relationship that is simply assigned, such as a teacher in school or a direct manager at work.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to find a mentor, why it can be a beneficial tool for you and what to avoid when seeking guidance.
We tend to associate mentorship with careers and the working world, but it can apply to many instances in life. Mentorship is a wonderful way to cultivate any skill or knowledge. It is a valuable tool to learn from advisement by means of another’s experiences and mistakes. Benjamin Franklin described learning through mentorship by the following statement, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Mentorship is neither a directive nor a short-lived lesson you will be tested on for a grade. Mentorship is a durable, guided experience if you’ll allow it.
Here are four useful tips that will help you learn more about how to find a mentor:
1. Be Specific About Your Goals
A common mistake in the process of learning how to find a mentor is people not knowing what they need help with. It’s true that many of us begin with total bewilderment and just want general guidance. Though general guidance is obviously a part of the mentoring process, you should also aim to achieve a certain milestone or goal.
Come to your mentor with a focus on an accomplishment they can guide you through. After reaching this milestone, no matter how small, the next goal is much closer and so on. Looking for a mentor to guide with your issues allows the development of improved thought processes.
2. Find a Mentor Who is Not Entirely Like You
The purpose of a mentor is to uncover your blind spots and learn something you never knew would be worth your while. Seeking a mentor with a similar background, worldview, field, or even similar characteristics may end up impeding your progress. Have no fear, you can have more than one mentor. There are really no rules when it comes to mentorship, only best practices. Just like any toolbox, you’ll likely want more than just a hammer. Same thing with mentorship. Once you determine areas of opportunities for yourself, find those who can help you in different capacities.
3. Make the Ask When It's Appropriate
Try not to rush into a mentorship. You may be an entry-level employee, super excited to start your career, but it’s not the best route to seek out the CEO as your mentor your first week on the job. People may not appreciate an offer to be a mentor when it’s not brought upon organically. Try your best to get to know your colleagues, leadership, and network before committing to approach someone for mentorship.
Make a list of individuals in your network that you think would be a good fit or would want to vouch for you with one of their contacts. Learn how to be direct when asking around your network of what you’re looking for. “I want to learn a, b, and c and reach goals x, y, and z. Do you know anyone that can point me in the right direction?” You will get what you put in, so put forth extra effort in finding the right mentors will help.
4. Mentorship is a Two-Way Relationship
For any relationship to thrive, those involved must nurture it. As I said earlier, you will usually get what you put in, so it is important to be courteous and respectful of your mentor’s time. When meeting, be direct and have a plan. And, follow their advice. Don't expect a long-lasting relationship if your mentor gives you steps to take, and you "forget" or in some other way blow off your tasks. Follow up with your mentors on how their advice was helpful or not with solutions or general growth. Ensuring open communication from both parties helps improve the mentorship strategy as your relationship progresses.
Summary: How to Find the Right Mentor
A mentor should be someone you can trust with your honest opinions and someone you won’t mind receiving some tough love from. Having a mentor shows that your motivation is high enough to succeed. More than that, finding the right one is truly important for your future development.
Pepelwerk is a job match-making platform that can help you find the right position based on your skills, abilities, and interests. More than that, our talent app offers career coaching, to help you reach your full potential and benefit from the opportunities out there. Through features on our app, you will find it easy to connect with those that will provide encouragement and guidance to help reach your goals.