Mentorship is Underrated—So Use It

It’s entirely normal—and almost expected—to feel lost in the beginning stages of your job. You’re trying not to forget details, dealing with clients, all the while trying to maintain sight of the big picture. And aside from some internet articles, there isn’t a real guidebook. Enter: mentors.

Mentors in your field can be underrated. But they hold information and wisdom that will help guide you through your job—and even far into your career. So, how do you find one, and how do you present yourself as the perfect mentee?

1. Figure out why you want a mentor.

It might sound silly, but think about what you really want to get out of a mentor/mentee relationship.

Are you looking for someone to connect you to other muckety-mucks? You might do better at a networking event and working your way up the professional ladder. Do you want them to solve all of your problems? Mentors have their own careers. While they can offer advice through crises, not every problem will sound the alarm.

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But if you’re looking for someone who can listen and share their experience from time-to-time, mentorship might just be the ticket.

2. Create your elevator pitch.

Why are you worth their time? It might sound harsh, but it’s important to figure out your strengths and how being a mentee will improve them.

What is your ultimate goal? It’s a big question, but it will help a potential mentor know what you are hoping to get out of the relationship. Being able to articulate your vision and flexible in how you structure the relationship is the best starting point.

3. Remember: the worst thing they can say is no.

Working up the courage to ask someone to mentor you—especially someone in a senior position—can be difficult. But keep in mind that the worst thing you’ll hear is a rejection. It can feel personal and sting a little, but it’s not the end of the world. This person may simply not have the time to take on a mentee, or they might not feel qualified—it’s not you simply being a failure. Continue your research and reach out to others.

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4. If they say yes, dedicate yourself to being a good mentee.

Remember: you are taking up somebody’s time. Do not abuse the privilege—rather, strategize so that when you do have their attention, you are asking worthwhile questions to receive answers that will benefit you.

It might sound obvious, but it bears repeating: listen to what your mentor has to say. If they’re successful, ask about the steps they took. Mentors won’t have all of the answers, but they will have insight that could help you find your own path.

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