4 Tips for Finding a Mentor
Are you just starting out in your career? Unfamiliar workplace norms and practices may threaten to overwhelm you. With minimal work experience under your belt, you may find it difficult to navigate the complexities of the corporate world. At this juncture, the presence of a good mentor is most reassuring. A good mentor will offer invaluable guidance and help to illuminate the path forward!
What makes a good mentor?
He or she should ideally be a senior-level professional who is an established expert in the industry. Besides possessing relevant professional qualifications, a good mentor has a generous spirit—and a deep desire to help the younger generation.
Look out for individuals who are willing to go the extra mile to share their experiences and realise your potential. Furthermore, a good mentor will not hesitate to push you out of your comfort zone through honest and constructive feedback.
It is important not to confuse mentorship in the workplace with therapy. Whilst therapy seeks to relieve psychological distress from past traumas, the focus of mentorship is to accelerate the mentee’s career growth. The mentor-mentee relationship is a strictly professional and forward-looking one. Here are 4 tips on how to find—and build a strong relationship with—your mentor:
1. Kickstart Your Search
If your company has implemented an internal mentorship program, definitely start your search there! However, even if there isn’t any mentorship program in place currently, do not fret. It’s time to broaden your horizons and get creative. Your mentor does not need to be in the same team or department as you—or even the same company.
Are you able to identify any potential individuals within your professional network, such as your past managers or colleagues? You can also find mentors via industry conferences or alumni networking platforms For instance, if you are a graduate from the National University of Singapore (NUS), you can join conNectUS to be a part of the vibrant NUS alumni community.
2. Reach Out to Your Potential Mentor
The second step is to reach out to your potential mentor. The prospect of approaching him or her may be extremely daunting, but don’t let fear hinder you from taking action. Ask yourself: what’s the worst that could happen?
Send an email to the individual you have in mind, politely requesting a brief coffee chat (be it in-person or online). In this email, you want to include a short self-introduction as well as reasons why you are reaching out. Be specific about the guidance you’re seeking—this shows your potential mentor that you are well prepared and will not waste their time.
3. Maintain the Mentor-Mentee Relationship
Both of you hit it off during your first meeting and your mentor has agreed to invest in your professional development. What’s next? The onus is on you—the mentee—to consistently follow up and schedule regular meetings based on your mentor’s availability.
Be mindful to respect your mentor’s time or boundaries. You must set a clear agenda for each meeting; it should not devolve into a gossip session where you share a litany of complaints about work. Listen intently to the advice given by your mentor and act on it!
4. Express Your Gratitude
At the end of the day, your mentor is taking time off his or her busy schedule to help you. Don’t forget to show your gratitude through thoughtful gifts and handwritten notes! Additionally, take the initiative to ask your mentor if there’s anything you can assist him or her with.
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