Mentorship is probably the most underutilized resource when it comes to determining a career plan. While people faithfully seek advice from strangers they meet at career fair or networking events, they usually lack interest in looking for and maintaining relationship with mentors. Because few people have mentors, a strong lineup of mentors can actually be your secret weapon to advance your career.
Specifically, here are five reasons why you should have a mentor:
The most important advantage a mentor offers is their ability to give you unfiltered opinions and constructive criticism.
Mentors are usually people who have known you for a period of time, so they understand your strengths and pitfalls that you might easily fall into. In the case where your mentor has actually been through what you are experiencing now, they are in even better position to provide valuable insights, saving you time and reducing your risk of failing.
What’s more valuable than the ability to advise you is a mentor’s willingness to give you the tough love. As much as we all love compliments, there are times when you really need to hear someone saying what they honestly think. Just think how it is far better to hear critiques from a mentor than from your manager at work!
Giving direct feedback is a challenge in itself, so having a mentor who does exactly that is the best resource you can have when devising your career plan.
Having a mentor means you have a cheerleader, a counselor, and a role model all in one package.
People usually go to their mentors when they experience extreme emotions – extremely happy or extremely unhappy. When you are over the moon for an accomplish, your mentor can cheer you on while reminding you to be humble and give credits to others. When you are feeling down, anxious, or scared, your mentor can provide just the right encouragement to help steer your confidence in the right direction.
Mentors are great role models. Working closely with a mentor gives you the opportunity to observe them – how they communicate, how they think, how they face challenges, and how they react to failures. Since it’s easier to imitate than to create, having a strong leader as your mentor and role model can help you become a great leader yourself.
In today’s world, information is king. Mentorship is one of the best sources for you to obtain information, knowledge, and advice that can aid you tremendously throughout your career.
Mentors who have first-hand experience in the field you are interested in often deliver insights that are not learnable in schools or from reading books. More importantly, they have the flexibility to tailor these insights to your specific situation so you can directly apply the learning to the challenges you are facing. A good mentor also often tells stories about mistakes they have made in the past, helping you prevent the same from happening down the line.
Mentorship is helpful if you are considering a career move in the future. They can often guide you through your budding career plan by helping you set guidelines and boundaries to attain along your career progression. This additional guidance can be especially useful if you are an entrepreneur, a career choice that requires tremendous discipline and a steep learning curve.
A mentor can also guide you in setting priorities to advance your career. They will often know which important steps to take that will lead you to success are how you can achieve them. Having this partnership can be the leg up you need to really succeed!
In addition to the one-on-one relationship that mentorship provides, a mentor can also open the door to other networking possibilities, leading you to opportunities that would have been harder to find on your own. Career opportunities are often presented through close professional connection, so any connection that you are able to nurture can be useful. Having developed a close partnership with you, a mentor is also the perfect coach to show you how to present yourself to other industry professionals.
A mentor could also directly impact your career search if they have connection at a company you would love to work at. A referral from the mentor can be the deal maker in securing the position you have always dreamed of! Note: If your mentor does not have the “right” connection, no worries - give Jobalaya a try and use it to look for referrals.
Having a mentor can help enormously in developing your career plan because of the knowledge they have gained in the field that you are pursuing. A mentor can be helpful at any stage of your professional development. Whether you are a recent college graduate or have been working independently for any number of years, gaining insight from another person who has followed a similar path to what you envision for yourself can be one of the most valuable experiences. If you do not have this partnership in your life already, you should seriously consider!