Mentorship at the beginning of any level of work or school is important and although having a mentor is overly emphasized, there are very few guidelines on how to find a mentor who is suited for your needs and who will truly live up to your expectations.
But why is mentorship so important?
A mentor, above everything else, equips you with skills and knowledge, relevant to your field of interest. Because he or she has the experience and is more familiar with how things work, it will be to your advantage that he/she shares his/her knowledge with you. Starting at a new workplace or furthering your career is not easy, being prepared for the ups and downs, therefore, serves as an advantage to you.
Mentors also provide personal support. Through socialization, emotional and financial support, mentors play the role of ‘guardian’ to their mentees. Having someone as a reference point allows you to navigate the troubling waters of a new phase and helps establish a strong relationship between the mentor and the mentee.
It has been observed that people who were under the tutelage of a mentor are more productive in their workplaces and more resilient when facing challenges both at school and at work.
How then should you go about finding a mentor or enrolling in a program that works just for you?
Articulate what you want to achieve in terms of objectives in order to allow precision in your search. Knowing what you want is half the task.
Who do you admire?
In line with what you want, it is critical to have some sort of understanding on who will help you achieve it. Even though we admire different persons, not all of them will help us achieve our objectives. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure that whoever we choose is who we need for our goals.
The only way to build a relationship and understanding is by asking questions. Since a personal relationship with your preferred mentor may be fairly new to you, it is important that establish this relationship through getting to know them and what better way than by asking questions?
Assess the fit
How well are he/she working for you and working with you to achieve your aspirations? Is there any future here and are they living up to your expectation? Is the relationship a hit or miss?
Establish the relationship
This step allows you to solidify the relationship. You don’t get to know a person unless you have spent about 50 hours with them. Here, you get to spend more time with your chosen mentor and get to understand how their world works and how seamlessly it fits into yours. Understanding and cooperation are cemented here.
6. Show interest
You’re not there just for yourself. Ask deliberate questions and show genuine interest in your mentor’s work and projects.
Make the ask
Throughout the previous steps, you have been getting to know your mentor, but in this stage, you are decided and now it is time to personally ask the prospective mentor to be your actual mentor. This is of course after keen and critical observation and a clear understanding of the path you want to take.
8. Offer something in return.
What are you bringing to the table? They have provided their time, advice and counsel, what can you offer in return?
Allow yourself to be the person they can reach when cultivating new ideas. Above all be appreciative of their time and help.