Mentorship is important because it provides an objective perspective on your career. A good mentor can be a confidential sounding board and cheerleader. It's important for mentorship to be consistent or have a somewhat regular schedule to be successful. For young professionals, a mentor can also be a guide around understanding career culture and etiquette. A mentor can be found within your current company or within the industry you’re working in.
If you're just starting a new job it can feel hard to find a mentor within the company but as you get acclimated be aware of people who give you a little extra time and advice on projects - keep a list of them and then don't be afraid to ask if they'd be willing to have a 10-15 minute phone call, coffee, or Zoom chat to help you get a little better perspective on the company. Especially if you have only been a remote employee. If there is someone outside of your department you think might be a good mentor, ask them if they can spare a few minutes. Explain that you're trying to expand the people you interact with and your understanding of the company as a whole.
Another option is to seek out an Industry mentor outside of your company. Leverage your existing network to get a feel of who might be open to being a mentor. Essentially, you're killing two birds by networking and finding a mentor at the same time. Asking for informational interviews is a good starting point. To find someone that you're comfortable speaking openly with may take a few tries. Starting with someone in your alumni network that is in the same industry is a great place to start - they're usually the most open to connecting. It's important to have the confidence to put yourself out there and find someone who can be instrumental in growing your career. Having a couple of mentors that are at different stages of their careers is also a good strategy.
Be aware of your mentor's time. Be organized and focused with your requests and questions. Never take your mentor's time for granted, always write a thoughtful thank you note. A mentor can be a link to an actual job so show them that you are polished and professional. They can be a great mentor and your biggest advocate. Even if they are a personal connection, keep the relationship on a professional level when you're talking about your career. Present yourself in the most professional light. Don't let your guard down.
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By Karen Elders, Host of Top of the Pile podcast and Co-Founder, Launch Career Strategies