The first was my supervisor many years ago. He taught me just about everything I know about business and about communicating effectively with people. He also helped me move up the career ladder at our company, helped me job search, and continued to provide advice when I moved on.
Another person who mentored me is someone with vast experience writing about careers. When she and I first met I had recently transitioned from Human Resources and she shared her advice and wisdom. Over the years, she has also helped promote my expertise, my books, and my other work.
A career mentor is someone, like my mentors, who voluntarily provides career advice and assistance. The relationship with your mentor is ongoing and your mentor can guide you throughout your career. A mentor can be indispensable both when you're starting out and when you're moving up the career ladder.
How can you find a mentor? It can be easier than you think. Brian Kurth, Founder, VocationVacations Career Mentorship Experiences, and author of Test-Drive Your Dream Job: A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love, shares his tips and advice on finding a career mentor.
How to Find a Mentor
Perhaps the most important step in pursuing a dream job is to find someone who already works in that field who can offer guidance and advice as you proceed. Believe it or not, this is not as difficult as it might sound. In my experience, many people express fear at the prospect of asking for help from a prospective mentor. Why would they want to help you, after all? The answer is easy: people like helping other people!
By asking a prospective mentor for help, they are being told they are admired for what they do, their career is in demand, and their experiences and insights are valuable to others. Not everyone will see it this way, but once you start asking, you'll be surprised how receptive people are.
Tips for Finding a Good Mentor
- Research the field and find out about the people who are in it.
- Create a list of people who seem like good fits with you
- Start contacting them slowly at first - a polite and formal email, for example - and see who responds.
- Try to form a relationship, and get to know their personalities even as you try to exhibit yours. Like so many other things, when you find the right mentor, you'll know it.