Everyone needs a mentor in their career. Just like you want the kind of friends who can successfully guide you through life’s twists and turns, you want people who can provide that same level of support in your career. You may be the star of your own show, but you still need an outstanding supporting cast in order to bring your vision to life. Finding a mentor (or multiple mentors) is an effective way to fine-tune your goals. Here are 3 qualities you should look out for when choosing a mentor.
They provide guidance and constructive feedback
Finding someone who’s respectful is key, but so is finding someone who will give you some tough love when you need it. A good mentor knows how to deliver feedback in a way that’s constructive, kind, and direct, and doesn’t shy away from being honest because they’re afraid of hurting your feelings. As the mentee, it’s crucial that you listen to the feedback, don’t take it personally, and actually consider it. Remember, this feedback is coming from the right place.
They’re willing to share skills, knowledge, and expertise
Just as important as your mentor having expertise is them being willing to share it with you. Your mentor shouldn’t be someone who begrudgingly hands over knowledge, nor should they reveal things in a vague, manipulative fashion. Rather, they should be open and excited to spread the word. The best mentors give advice not because they like to hear themselves talk, but because they genuinely want others to benefit from the hard-won wisdom they’ve learned over the course of their careers.
They value ongoing learning and growth in their field
Mentors are in a position to illustrate how the field is growing and changing and that even after many years there still are new things to learn. Good mentors are committed and are open to experimenting and learning practices that are new to the field. Finding a mentor who is committed to continued learning is important. You want someone who truly believes in the power of professional development, regardless of where they’re at in their career. Remember: What worked a decade ago may not be optimal today, and what works today may not work as well one, two, five, or more years from now. So, continual learning is essential to be an effective mentor.
Mentors can be valuable in just about any stage you’re in, whether you are job hunting, getting adjusted in a role, looking to move up, or exploring a new and intimidating career path. Always remember that having a mentor isn’t about becoming the person; rather, you’re aspiring to have their skills and to gain the knowledge that they have. Everyone’s seeking their own definition of a successful career, and chances are yours will look much different than your mentors. Rely on them for guidance and encouragement, but make sure you’re continuing to do what feels right for you.
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