Women in Business - Fall 2017 - 15
f e AT u r e
"Cherish it as
Meant for A Mentor
A quick guide to finding your career confidante
Thinking it's too early or late in your career to find a meaningful mentor?
Nonsense. Contrary to popular belief, you can benefit from a great mentorship
at most any age. That applies to whether you're a newly minted college grad or
an executive aiming to accomplish as much as possible during the last decade of
your professional life.
When you're first starting your career, you might seek out an experienced coworker who can ramp up your learning curve and fill you in on less obvious
organizational practices. As you progress, a capable confidante can watch your
back and help smooth the way toward an upward trajectory. And at the apex
of your career, you may need a "life mentor" who can objectively advise you on
career challenges and possible job changes.
"A good mentor can
support you on your quest to
obtain skills, knowledge and
confidence; advise you on industry
and company culture; expand your
networks; offer you industry exposure
and help you grow personally
A recent survey found 86 percent of u.S. executives believe a mentor is important
for career development, yet only about a quarter have a mentor themselves -
perhaps because the rest simply don't take the initiative.
That's unfortunate, since a good mentor can support you on your quest to
obtain skills, knowledge and confidence; advise you on industry and company
culture; expand your networks; offer you industry exposure and help you grow
personally and professionally.
"navigating your career and figuring out how to get ahead can be daunting,
especially if you're trying to go it alone," notes nicole Fallen in Business news
daily. "no matter how independent you are, you'll get where you want to go
faster with a little help."
The American Business Women's Association could be a great place to start
looking for a mentor, since we promote and encourage the exchange of
information, wisdom and expertise between members. Among other advice for
finding helpful mentors throughout your career:
Mentorships work best when you set goals. Instead
of partnering with only a vague idea about what you
need, consider the next stages of your career and what
kind of advice will help you get there. For example,
what questions would you like to ask if nothing was
out of bounds?
Mentors can be transient. even those who only have
time for quick e-mail exchanges or occasional breaktime chats can come in very handy. Think about
creating a multi-mentor "board of advisors" from
whom you can seek advice at any given time.
Mentors can work outside your field. Sometimes
leaders in other industries can contribute a more
objective and/or comprehensive viewpoint on what's
going on with your career.
Don't set sights too low or too high. your mentor need
not be a top exec; by the same token you shouldn't
rule out big players in your industry. C-suite execs
may be pressed for time, but that's because they're
successful at what they do.
Prioritize integrity. emulate leaders who tell the truth,
treat others with respect, display a strong moral
compass and follow through on their commitments.
Match up values. Because your basic values can
be hard to change, you'll likely work best with a
mentor who has the same general priorities in life.
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