Do you feel that having access to advice from someone who has been there could help you develop your career? Mentors can help us to develop at all stages of our careers, and prepare us for the future. Choose a mentor who is in a position similar to the one you aspire to have, and whom you can easily communicate with and trust.
Jessica, the Academic Manager at Computer Power Institute, has mentored several young women who are keen to build a career in IT. Unofficially she’s mentored all Computer Power students, motivating and inspiring them to complete their courses and remain focused on their desired outcomes. I sat down with her and asked: ‘Why should people have a mentor at the beginning of their careers?’
- Having someone to guide you and offer advice through your first professional job will increase your professionalism by assisting you to manage office politics and your expectations. Have open and honest conversations with your mentor about any challenges you’re having and together you can work out the best ways to overcome them.
- A mentor can help you define and achieve your career goals. Ongoing discussions with your mentor can help keep you focused and motivated.
- Develop your soft skills. A mentor will help you to learn and use emotional intelligence. During your sessions you may be asked questions about yourself and how you choose to react to others in certain situations. You may discuss a situation and how best to deal with it. Being able to view issues from a different perspective and receiving a mentor’s advice will help you to think, develop empathy and will give you confidence to deal with similar situations.
- Having someone whom you admire on your side, means you don’t want to let them down. Jessica told me that her mentees are accountable and responsible for meeting her expectations. This leads to people knowing that they can achieve things they at one time thought impossible.
- A mentor can help you learn how to build your business network by introducing you to people and by inviting you to events which industry people will also attend. You can also connect to people using LinkedIn (make sure you send a personalised request explaining how you found them and why you’d like to connect). Learn more about networking here.
- Work better. With the help of a good mentor, you can work more efficiently, with a clearer view of the future you are trying to achieve. This helps you feel more confident in your job, which leads to better job performance and more success along your chosen road.
For long term success, your mentor may be the most important element in a your career.
Where can you find a mentor? The man we’d all like to have as a mentor, Sir Richard Branson, suggests doing some research and attending industry events and groups. Talk to people and make meetings with people you’d like to learn from. He also suggests looking online. Use Facebook to find relevant events to attend, subscribe to newsletters that appeal and follow people on social media, and use these connections to ask questions.
Start now! Connect with Richard on Twitter!
Richard Branson @richardbranson
Who are you connected with that provides you with wise and reliable advice? Tell us in the comments below (and share their Twitter handle!)