As you move your career forward, you’ll likely find yourself getting better and better at your job. You’ll learn more about yourself — how you manage people best, how you work best, and what type of work you’re most interested in. You’ll also start to think more about the future. You’ll start to think about what kinds of opportunities this company has for you. You’ll wonder what it will take for you to achieve your true potential and do the things that are most important to you.
This is the point in your career where you should start looking for a professional mentorship.
Professional development and mentoring can be an extremely important tool during the formative years of your career. The ideal time to begin a mentorship is when you feel established in your career goals and know how much you could benefit from the wisdom of someone who holds the position you ultimately want to achieve, or someone who has had a career that you admire and respect. There are many benefits of professional mentorship, which can include personalized guidance, networking assistance, lasting support, and friendship.
In some cases, workplace mentorships come about naturally. Two people who work with or for one another build a rapport, and the more established person takes a strong interest in their protégé’s career. This is a great way for mentorships to be born, but it’s not the only path.
Finding Your Mentor
Sometimes, in order to gain the benefits of a mentorship, you need to be more assertive and structured in your approach. Seek out people within your company or your field whom you admire and think you might have a lot to learn from. Invite them to lunch or schedule a meeting to get their opinion about a particular project. This is where you lay the groundwork. Figure out if there is a connection that can be built upon and try to gain a sense of whether this person might be open to being your mentor. Don’t assume that just because someone has a similar career path to the one that you want that they’ll be an ideal mentor for you.
Once you’ve found someone who you think could be a strong mentor for you, share your vision with them. Tell them what you want to achieve in your career, not just in terms of title but in terms of personal achievement, motivation, and impact. Have an understanding of what your greater goal for yourself is so that you can share that with your potential mentor.
Finally, be up front with them about the type of mentor-mentee relationship you would like to have. Give them an opportunity to gracefully bow out of the situation, but also be honest and forthright about your reasons for wanting this particular person as your mentor. Establishing a clear foundation up front should help form the basis of a lasting and productive professional mentorship.