How to Find a Mentor to Help You on Your Career Path
Wouldn’t it make life so much easier if you had a trusted advisor in your back pocket to help answer all of your career questions?
Someone who could give you advice when you’re about to make a big career decision and connect you with other working professionals that can get you where you need to go?
Great news—this person exists! In the working world, this is what you call a mentor. But, how on earth do you find a (good) mentor and how do you get the relationship started?
We’ve got answers to help you find and establish the best mentoring relationship possible.
What are the Benefits of Having a Mentor?
Before diving into the how to’s of finding a mentor, let’s explore why you need one in the first place so you can make sure to get the most of your mentor relationship.
- Gain valuable insights and advice
If you want advice from someone who’s seen and done it all before, then a mentor is the perfect solution. You can bounce ideas off of them and seek their guidance when it comes to anything from changing jobs to asking your boss for a raise.
- Keep yourself accountable
It’s easy to have ambitious goals but much harder to execute them. A mentor is there to keep you on track and remind you of what you want to achieve long-term. You’ll be much more likely to apply for that new position or go to a networking event if you know you will be held accountable.
- Widen your professional network
Living in Hawaii, there is a big emphasis on “it’s all about who you know.” That’s where a mentor comes in handy; you may have the opportunity to tap their established network. You never know when they’ll introduce you to the right person that will help you land your next gig!
How to Find a Mentor
It can be difficult to know where to even begin looking for a mentor—if you knew you’d already have one, right? Well it may be a lot easier than you think. People who are invested in their career usually find it rewarding to give back to other professionals trying to follow in their footsteps.
Here is a quick guide to finding someone to be your mentor in a way that is professional and strategic.
Step 1: Identify someone you admire. It could be your boss, a former manager, or even someone you met at a networking event. Find out as much as you can about them through LinkedIn, Google, or word of mouth. Do they have qualities and talents you want to learn? Hint: the best mentors have a large skillset that you don’t have and can supplement your growing knowledge.
Step 2: Ask for a one-on-one meeting. Sit down over coffee or lunch so you can hear more about their career journey. Don’t come out right away and say you want them to be your mentor. You need to establish a genuine relationship and then decide if you are interested in learning from them.
Step 3: Make the request. If the meeting goes well, let them know you’re interested in learning more from them and would be honored to have them as your mentor, if they are willing. It’s alright to appear eager; you want them to know that this is something you’ve thought about and are interested in committing to.
If they say no, be gracious. Be respectful of the fact that their busy career, family obligations and personal life can all get in the way of taking on extra responsibilities. Identify someone else and try again.
If they say yes, hooray! Commit to seeing this process through and giving it your all. They are agreeing to share their valuable time and energy to help you succeed in your career and that’s a big deal!
How to Have a Great Mentor Relationship
Now that you have a mentor, it’s important to maintain the relationship. Look at it like dating; you need to continue putting in work and show respect in order to keep the relationship alive. Here are four things you should do to get the most out of your mentor relationship.
- Take the lead
As mentioned above, this is your idea so you’re going to need to be the one to take the lead on your interactions. Setting up meetings, coming up with questions, and following up on projects are all part of your responsibilities.
- Manage your expectations
Yes, it would be nice to have this person on call 24/7 to give you advice, but that’s not what this is; you need to respect their time. Talk to them about what a realistic relationship could look like and don’t make additional demands.
- Be respectful of your mentor’s advice
You may not always agree with what your mentor has to say, but be gracious and considerate in receiving their feedback. If you do agree with their advice, take it seriously, follow through, and report back.
- Add value to your mentor’s life
The best mentor-mentee relationships are mutually beneficial. Many mentors find value hearing the perspective of a smart, driven younger person, but could you do more? Maybe you could help out on a project (hello, resume builder!) or promote their services through your social network?
Finding a mentor can be tricky, but by taking a proactive approach you increase your chances for a lifetime of professional success!
Looking for more advice? When you work with ALTRES Staffing our knowledgeable Personnel Managers can answer your career questions and concerns. We’ll help you prepare for interviews, connect you with great local companies, and get your foot in the door of Hawaii’s top businesses. Apply to one of our open positions to get started!