Having a mentor is advantageous no matter what career you may be in. Benefits of having a mentor include: personal encouragement and support, real-world advice, a realistic perspective of your industry or workplace, increased confidence, networking opportunities, and more. While you may understand the benefits of mentoring and want to be mentored, finding a mentor to push you to your limits may require looking outside your immediate workplace.
What to Look for in a Mentor
Do you feel as though mentoring just happens naturally? That a seasoned professional will recognize your talent and take you under his or her wings? While this can happen, you shouldn't sit around and wait for it. Instead, actively look for someone to mentor you – and be picky about who you approach. In general, look for a mentor that:
- • You respect
- • Respects others
- • Is a good listener
- • Is a good communicator
- • Is flexible
- • Is established in your field
- • Is excited about your field
- • Wants to share knowledge
- • Will be committed to mentoring
Where to Find a Mentor
The first place to look for a mentor is your workplace. After all, that's where you spend the bulk of your time currently and where you want to succeed, right? This doesn't necessarily mean you should approach your immediate supervisor or boss about becoming your mentor. In fact, they may feel threatened by such a request. However, you could ask your boss or supervisor to recommend someone from within the organization that might make a good mentor for you. Instead of feeling as if you're going after their jobs, they'll be more likely to be impressed at your initiative.
What if no one fits the bill at your workplace? If you work in a small office, your options may be limited or non-existent. You will need to expand your search. If you want a mentor that's familiar with your workplace or industry, consider speaking with your company's vendors and suppliers. You could also join a professional or trade organization and start networking with individuals in those groups. Don't forget about alumni groups and former instructors.
It's also possible that your future mentor is someone you already know including a family member, friend, or friend of a friend. Keep an open mind about the specifics of your industry. For example, if you're pursuing a veterinary career, your brother-in-law who happens to be a chiropractor may have valuable insights into the ins-and-outs of running a private practice. While he may not understand veterinary medicine, you can bet he understands how to market his practice, attract patients, keep patients, ask for referrals, bill third party payers, and more.
Once you find a mentor, do your part by being a considerate, appreciative mentee. Respect your mentor's time and work together to set mutual expectations.
Finding a mentor could result in a long-term, mutually rewarding relationship. However, mentors rarely magically appear. Put yourself out there and begin your mentor search today.