Every ship’s captain has worked as a first companion to a superior captain at some point. Similarly, every successful person has been guided or mentored by someone who has more experience and expertise than they did at the time. A mentor, whether it be in or out of the workplace, can help you improve and steer your career on the proper path. They spend time with you and show you what they know. They also advise you on how to prevent costly professional mistakes without charging you anything. In this article, we will discuss the different ways a mentor can help your career. But before then, who is a mentor?
Who is a mentor?
A mentor is a person who serves as a guide to a person, usually called a mentee. A mentee is someone that does not have much experience and needs guidance. Mentees get mentors from their industry or sectors similar to theirs. The mentor guides the mentee so they can grow professionally. They often advise them because they have more knowledge and expertise compared to the mentees.
5 ways a mentor can help your career
Now that you know who a mentor is, here are five ways a mentor can help your career:
1. A mentor teaches you the ropes.
One of the ways a mentor can help your career is by teaching you the ropes. If you think you know what kind of job you want, having a mentor who is currently working or has worked in that job could be quite beneficial in assisting you in getting there. They understand the challenges you’ll face at work and show you how to avoid them, as they might have experienced similar challenges. They’re also in a great position to show you the vital skills you need for growth in your career path, as well as how to improve them. You could also get short-term support, such as getting projects that help you test your skills.
If you are a newbie at a workplace, having a mentor helps you understand the workplace culture. You might have the employee handbook and training, but a mentor can teach you everything you need to know about any unwritten norms. Furthermore, a mentor can assist you in avoiding mistakes by alerting you when you are on your way to making one.
2. Helps you understand what you want.
If you do not know what you want or the next step to take for your career growth, then you need a mentor. It’s too easy to get trapped on a rung of the ladder you don’t want to be on or stumped as to what to do next. A competent mentor will look out for your best interests and will assist you in reflecting on your strengths and preferred types of work. They may also assist you in developing a strategy for incorporating more of the activities you enjoy into your work life. Besides, they can give you the courage to make changes and keep you on track.
3. A mentor holds you accountable.
The promise we make to ourselves is easier to break (remember your new year resolution). But, you need a mentor to help you fulfill those promises you made to yourself. Thus, one of the ways a mentor can help your career is by holding you accountable. They give you the motivation you need to increase your productivity and achieve your set goals. Your mentor may also push you to raise your expectations and challenge yourself.
4. You get constructive feedback.
One of the ways a mentor can help your career is by giving you constructive feedback. Honest feedback is possible when a mentorship relationship is built on trust. A mentor has to put you through if you are going the wrong way or you need to improve your work or attitude. You should understand that constructive criticism is meant to help them improve professionally. A mentor can help you realize your flaws and offer advice on how to improve. The mentor serves an objective role because this is a professional connection. Your mentor should not be your friends or family members. The reason is that they may be hesitant to point out your flaws for fear of appearing judgmental.
5. A mentor can help you expand your professional network.
We do not recommend you make this your main purpose for approaching someone for possible mentorship. The reason for this is that the person might feel used. Yet, your mentor may be able to link you to people who will be valuable to you. It could just be about raising your profile. It could also be to provide you with another source of advice on a problem you’re having. Sometimes, they put you in touch with someone who can directly affect the problem. Besides, you will be able to gain from their networks because you are close to them.
How to choose a mentor
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how a mentor can help advance your career. If you have an interest in picking a mentor, here is how to choose one;
It should be someone you admire.
A mentor should be someone you admire for their wisdom and talent. They have to be someone whose achievements, skills, and behavior motivate you to be better. That doesn’t imply they have to be extremely superior, or even at a higher level than you. If you feel their advice and perspectives would be beneficial to you, they could be an excellent mentor.
They should be someone you can trust.
Your mentorship sessions should be a safe space where you can be open and honest about your problems. You’ll have to go for someone you can trust. This will help you open up about your concerns while also knowing that your chats will be kept private. Trust is the bedrock of a successful mentoring relationship.
Start with your network.
We cannot overemphasize the role of networking in mentorship. Therefore, to choose a mentor, you need to network with people. You can start with people close to you, such as your superior at work or a senior colleague. Besides, you can also connect with people you look up to on social media platforms such as LinkedIn.
Mentorship is quite essential if you want to go far in your career path. Thus, you should choose someone you look up to and trust as your mentor.