Everyone wants a mentor......well....
Everyone CLAIMS to want a mentor, but few execute it correctly. And no, I do not mean mass messaging a bunch of people on LinkedIn asking if they can be your mentor. (I was guilty of this too, when I first started). This blog entry is focused on my tips for mentees.
Stay in touch!!
This alone may be the most important advice I can give you on this topic. I’ve seen (along with many other professionals) too many people seek mentors and, after that initial meeting, never speak again. This can be for a few reasons:
They may not connect well.
I won’t suggest looking past this because compatibility is crucial for a good dynamic. But, if you are matched with an incompatible mentor, get another. Do NOT stop searching because of one unfavorable situation.
2. Mentees have one question and want that specific answer.
If this is the case, I advise you to look past that question. There will be a point where you'll have additional questions. There is no need to find another mentor to get a single answer.
3. "Stuff" happens.
Hey, I get it. We all have lives. If you fall out of contact, reach out and get back in touch. I’ve had mentors (plural, but I’ll circle back to this) helping and advising me during my last seme
ster of college. While they were incredibly active then, we don’t speak as often. Which is more than okay because I get it, and I still take time to update them twice a year.
A list of 3-5 questions can help keep a conversation moving. When conversing with them, do not list all the questions consecutively like it’s an interview. That will not only be dry and boring but also feel draining.
Learning to incorporate the questions into a casual conversation is a skill that can significantly benefit you in many areas. Professional career, personal life, dating, and more.
Also, don’t only have questions about yourself and your journey either. Mentors take time out of their day to help you. Ask questions about their life and build rapport. This doesn’t mean asking, “when was the last time you took your family to the beach?” but showing interest in their lives.
I say this all to say have questions for them. Don’t ONLY make it about you. It will likely be short-lived. See if there's anything you can do to benefit them. This question shows genuine interest, appreciation, and value.
(Remember when I said I’ll circle back to my mentors?) Well, now I can ask them questions to help them with their problems. Which I truly love because it shows the growth of our dynamic.
Have multiple mentors.
Don’t rely on one specific mentor. Their journey is specific to them. Having a few will allow you to have greater insight.
For example, if you have three mentors and ask them for job advice. Two may advise you to get certifications while the third one says “skip it. You don’t need it”. The latter response could be because they took a military route and don’t believe certs are needed. BUT, the other two have been in your shoes and can relate to the difficulty of getting into the field. While that third one is speaking from his experience, it may not be most applicable to you.
All these can be summarized as applying effort. Mentors are investing their time into you. And like any good investor, they want to see their time and effort pay off.
I’m an avid believer in mentorship. Learning from someone else’s mistakes saves me time and allows me to get farther. I don’t need to be burned by the fire to know it’s hot, especially if someone has scars on their fingers for the same reason.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog. Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I will catch you in two weeks with my next entry. Til then, stay great! Peace