Having a mentor, especially in the beginning stages of your career, is arguably one of the most valuable assets to your professional growth. He or she can teach you new skills, introduce you to networking contacts, and help you blossom – all without passing judgment. I’m lucky to have several co-workers here at Buchanan PR whom I can count on for guidance, constructive criticism or a friendly chat.
1. Find the right one(s). This could be someone in your office, an alumni connection or a friend with experience in your desired industry. It should be someone (or several people) whom you look up to and can trust.
2. Establish goals. Why do you want a mentor? What do you hope you get out of it? What can YOU do for your mentor? Discuss your goals from the very beginning and set objectives to obtain those goals. It can be helpful to give yourself a timeline by when you would like each objective completed.
3. Listen and learn. Your mentor is there to help you, so ask lots of questions! Take notes and offer to help with projects wherever possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for honest feedback on your progress, either. Let the positive feedback build your confidence and keep your emotions in check when receiving constructive criticism. Learning what you can do better is one of the best ways to grow.
4. Find a happy medium. The more time you can spend with your mentor, the more you’ll get out of it. However, they’re probably busy people like the rest of us, so be careful that you’re not too demanding. It can be helpful to define parameters from the very beginning and establish how often you’ll meet and what you’ll discuss.
5. Thank him/her often. Although being a mentor can be a fulfilling experience, there’s a good chance that you are getting more out of the relationship than your mentor. Be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them.
Have you had a great mentor experience? Are you a mentor yourself? Share your story in the comments!