Written by SarahJoy Chaples North Central/Downeast Workforce Development Specialist
“Where are we meeting for coffee?” It’s time to sit down with my mentor for our monthly check-in. This one hour (sometimes more!) out of my month is one that I cherish. It inspires, refocuses, validates, and challenges me.
Find Someone Who Can Guide You Through the Forest
Do you know the saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees?” It means that it’s hard to see or understand the big picture because you are in the thick of it, examining the bark, the limbs, each type of tree. We’ve all been there!
What if you had someone to talk to who knew about the trees, but remained objective because they can see the forest? Consider finding someone who:
- Has experience in your industry
- Can relate to what you are going through (maybe they have gone back to school, worked as a single parent, changed careers, moved into leadership, etc.)
- Is part of a circle of professional contacts you aspire to connect with
- Someone who has done life differently – stepped outside the box of what was expected of them and they inspire you!
Having someone by your side to help you navigate the forest using life experience they have already acquired can be a wonderful resource.
A Mentor Can Help You Move Forward
A mentor helps you be intentional about staying on track.They can also help you shift your track. Their most important role is helping you identify your way forward successfully. Their experience and insight are valuable resources that will help you make decisions more objectively.
What Kind of Mentor?
There are many different kinds of mentors. There are:
- Short-term mentors
- Long-term mentors
- Life mentors
- Career mentors
- Industry specific mentors
- Regionally specific mentors
- Mentors who have walked a similar path
- Mentors who have done it differently
It is helpful for you to think through the next (or even the next few) steps that you might take. Then, ask yourself this question: what is it that would really help me step into a new or different space?
How to Find a Mentor
- Look around at who you know – is someone within your circles a good fit?
- Do you think someone you know might be able to recommend someone?
- Have you thought about looking on LinkedIn or other social media sites to help you find someone who has been through what you are or are about to go through?
You will want the person to be someone you are comfortable with. Some of what you will share with the person will be about the challenges you are facing. Having a good rapport with the person you are talking to will be key in helping you feel like you can be really honest. Honesty is critical both in you putting your situation and options on the table, as well as being able to receive feedback! You need to be able to be yourself and be comfortable with who you are talking to.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask!
People like to be able to share their experiences, to be seen as an expert. Be respectful and honest about why you think they would be a good mentor for you, and be okay if they say no. You would rather someone accept being your mentor who has the time and appreciation of the role they are about to step into!
Finding a mentor is a great way to help you get objective about where you are, what your options are, and building your network. Go ahead – reach out!