To prosper in the workplace, in your studies, and even life, a mentor can be vital. Venturing out into the real world and trying to nail down that first full-time job can be a difficult task, and even once you’ve got one, there is still so much more to learn. Naturally, this process can be made more manageable if there is someone guiding you who has been through the same situation themselves.
A mentor is the first port of call for a young employee with occupational queries, whether it’s negotiating a salary or preparing for a job interview. By sharing a connection with a more senior figure, the mentee is able to accelerate their development and absorb information more efficiently, allowing them to perform duties to the best of their abilities.
Where can you find them?
In the workforce
First of all, it is important to identify an individual you admire. This might be due to their work ethic, how they conduct themselves with clients or because of their impressive portfolio. You want to align yourself with someone with insight and knowledge, who can help you improve. While a respected member within your own company might be ideal, it is not the only option. The mentor could work for a similar organisation in the same industry or even be someone who has enjoyed great success in a different field completely.
When you are at university, there are no shortage of resources available and that includes experts in your area of study. Lecturers and tutors can be outstanding mentors because aside from astute knowledge of the course material, they often have contacts from their previous employment in the industry. By building a relationship, you might find yourself being introduced to prominent figures that you normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet as a student. While this won’t necessarily lead to a job, it is a good way to get your name out there and may hold you in good stead when you apply for an internship, work experience or even a full time position in the future.
Why are they important?
Starting a new job can be a steep learning curve, particularly if you are new to the workforce. You are in an unfamiliar environment with new responsibilities and even things as simple as remembering everybody’s names can be difficult. The presence of a mentor can be advantageous as it speeds up the process of adapting to the position.
There are a host of different skills that mentors can teach. Many of these are soft skills such as teamwork, leadership and work ethic. It’s important to note that mentors aren’t necessarily going to be able to solve all of your individual problems but that their advice can be applied to a range of situations.
Even when you have completed your university degree or progressed beyond an entry level position in the workforce, it is vital to remember that you never stop learning. There is little point in finding a mentor, soaking up their expertise for six months and then deciding you don’t need one anymore. The influence of technology has reshaped many industries and in order to stay ahead of the curve, adapting to new developments in the field is paramount. In past years, a reporter based in a newsroom would have been supported by a photographer, sub-editors and perhaps even a researcher, whereas today, all of those responsibilities have been condensed into the role of a sole journalist. Presumably, a mentor would have seen various changes occur during their career and will vouch for the importance of constantly challenging yourself to improve and adjust.
Start-up founders on the importance of mentors