Updated: Jun 20, 2020
Having a Mentor is a critical piece if you are someone who wants to begin or change your career.
In either scenario, you may feel like you are unclear on your desired work path, or maybe even unsure of how to get there. You may even be having a hard time finding work. This could be due to lack of job related experience or many other factors. This is where securing a Mentor can be beneficial to you in order to achieve your career goals!
A Mentor is a subject matter expert (SME) in the field you desire to work in.
They may even have the job you desire to have, or have held that position before in their lives, and because of this a Mentor is someone who can help you in so many ways. They can help you to develop a roadmap on how you can discover your career. They can provide you with a great learning opportunity to gain industry knowledge by sharing their career experiences. They may even become an advocate for your work experiences and be a reference for you.
It's important to understand that a Mentor is someone who volunteers and dedicates their time to your success because they have a genuine interest to help you succeed. Understanding this is critical because you want to ensure that your Mentor feels the time they dedicate to you helping you with your goals, is worth their time and efforts. So, the question is how do you do this?
The best thing you can do is make the most of your time with your Mentor. These tips will help you make sure your time, as well as theirs, is well spent and valuable. This is important so your Mentor keeps their desire to continue helping you, and so you can make progress with the new information you obtain through that relationship to accomplish your career goals.
Here are 7 valuable tips to implement with your Mentor:
1) Prep powerful questions in advance to ask your Mentor prior to meeting.
Be proactive in preparing your questions in advance so you won't show up without an objective, goal, or desired outcome of your meeting.
Ask questions for:
Clarification and understanding.
To help create direction for discovering your career or progressing it further.
To learn from past or possible mistakes in the future.
To gain industry knowledge.
For next steps.
Basically anything that will help you accomplish your career goals.
2) Inquire how your Mentor progressed in their career to help you develop a roadmap on how you can do the same or something similar.
Don't be shy to ask how your Mentor got to where they are. Most people like to share their story and what better person to share their story with then you, their Mentee! So I encourage you to ask away because you may learn something.
Use this as a path you can create for yourself or maybe a path that is similar. If it worked for them, it may work for you too. You never know until you try.
3) Write down the answers to your questions as takeaways for you to accomplish.
You are going to be learning so much during your time with your Mentor so write it down! You don't want to forget the valuable information you are obtaining or show your Mentor that you don't care about the information they are sharing with you.
Also, writing down new information is a technique to help you retain it. You are more likely to retain and implement information you wrote down versus information you only listened to and didn't take notes on.
This will also be your very own collection of information that you can refer back to at any time you need to moving forward with your career. I don't know about you but I go back to old class notes sometimes for reference. If it's valuable information it won't hurt to have it just in case you need it later on.
4) Make progress on takeaways prior to next mentor meeting and provide an update on tasks and takeaways accomplished.
The whole point of having a Mentor is to get closer to your career goals and learn from someone who has been there and done what you want to do. Therefore take this seriously and take actions towards putting the information they give you into actions.
As you make progress with your actions, you are showing your Mentor what kind of work ethic you have, as well as what you are capable of. Help to make your Mentor your biggest fan and advocate!
Also help yourself to create movement in the direction you want to go in.
5) Add these accomplishments to your resume and use them during future interviews as experience gained.
You may not have the experience you want in a paying job (yet), but you are working on gaining that experience through your Mentor/Mentee relationship.
Whether your accomplishments are through a paid job or not, either way, experience is experience gained!
Your resume is a document that reflects your experience so it's okay to add this to your resume.
6) Ask if your Mentor if they can advocate for your skills and accomplishments from your takeaways by being a reference for you.
Now that you have taken the information you learned from your Mentor, added it to your resume, you may have started to apply for jobs. You will need to provide a reference to advocate for you and who better than your Mentor!
Don't be shy to ask them to be a reference for you. Remember, your Mentor is someone who wants to help you succeed, and they are a SME in the field you are trying to break into. Most importantly, they have seen your work ethic and can vouch for you.
7) Say thank you!
Having a grateful heart and spirit will always help you progress in your career. It will also help you build a nice reputation amongst peers in the industry you wish to work in.
Thank you goes a long way, especially giving thanks to your Mentor since they are giving their time and resources to you for free.
Saying thank you doesn't even have to cost you anything. So whether you give your Mentor a verbal thank you, a thank you card, or a thank you gift, either way your thank you will show your Mentor that you appreciate their time and value their efforts.
I hope this has helped you to prepare for your future discussions with your Mentor. I also hope this helps you to see the value in this type of relationship. The relationship with your Mentor can be a catalyst to help you begin or transition your career, and evenutually help you to accomplish your career goals!