No matter where you are on your career path, whether you’re in an entry level role or have reached CEO level, having mentors around you has a huge impact on your professional growth. You may be thinking, why is having a mentor beneficial, and what difference would it make compared to doing it on my own? A good analogy is comparing your professional journey to climbing a mountain. Your career mentor will have climbed that very mountain before and can guide you on the best paths to take, potential hurdles along the way and how to mentally tackle the task ahead of you. Having an experienced mind to bounce ideas around with is more productive compared to internalising or discussing necessarily with people who haven’t been in your shoes before. Learn how mentors can help you and why you should start looking for your perfect mentor.
1. Mentors have experienced what you’re going through, or they can at least give grounded advice on challenges you may be facing and how to tackle them. From disagreements with colleagues and work load management to presentations and asking for a pay rise, your mentor has likely experienced these challenges and can help you break down your thoughts and give advice on how best to approach them.
2. Mentors are a good listening board without the bias of being a friend or family member. While your loved ones are always there for you, sometimes their advice isn’t always the right thing to do in a professional sense. Your mentor is unbiased and knows the professional sphere inside and out and can give you advice on what’s best for you while also giving a broader professional perspective on things you mightn’t have even considered.
3. Furthering on from that point, your mentor can tell you the hard truth when you need it. Learning to take constructive criticism is an important trait to have and your mentor is the best person to teach you how to deal with it. If you’re feeling negative about a certain aspect of your job, your mentor might tell you to just get on with it and look at the bigger picture. While it’s not easy medicine to swallow, sometimes it’s what you need to hear. Remember, your mentor has your best professional interests at heart, so don’t take it personally.
4. Your mentor can help you to identify your strengths and break down tangible ways of how to best utilise those strengths. Sometimes just fleshing out ideas can clear your head and help you to feel productive about approaching challenges. In the same vein, discussing your weaknesses and how to tackle them is hugely beneficial when speaking to someone with experience. Don’t be afraid of admitting your faults, it’s the first step to progression and, again, your mentor is there to help your in your career journey.
Global leaders like Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson all started out their careers with mentors and maintained them throughout their rise to professional fame. When Facebook started taking off, Zuckerberg was mentored by Apple entrepreneur, Steve Jobs. Though both are successful beyond measure, they both simply started out with an idea and a willingness to learn. While you may not have an idea that will change the digital world like theirs, your career potential is more susceptible to rounded growth with the right mentor by your side. Reach out to people you respect on LinkedIn, old university alumni or people you’ve met while networking to be your mentor and discover how beneficial it is to have an experienced role model by your side.