By Lindsey Hobbs, Communications Intern
I frankly wouldn’t be at OSCPA right now if it weren’t for a mentor who taught me how to write and opened doors for me with his networking connections.
And that’s where the true value in having a mentor lies.
Defining the mentor/mentee relationship
A mentor can provide a new way of looking at things and the relationship can be as formal or informal as you want. The experience is your own and how you and your mentor decide to shape it will impact the worth of the relationship.
Someone who has experience and is willing to share his or her experience can be invaluable to a person’s career. Whether you are simply going out for coffee to ask advice, or are using your mentor to help you network with future employers, the benefits are endless.
What separates a mentor from the typical contact you make by mingling and exchanging business cards is a long-term commitment and a genuine concern about your future. This mentor will probably be in a professional position that you are aspiring for one day, and you will respect this person enough that you enjoy being around him or her, but you will also be able to take some constructive criticism from this person when it is dished out.
Finding a mentor
Before you can be connected with a mentor, it’s important to decide what you’re looking to get out of the connection. Are you searching for someone who is on their way out the door, and is looking for a successor? Or are you new in your career and seeking guidance on professional development, or somewhere in between?
No matter your reasons, finding a mentor can be a piece of cake if you’re willing to get out there. First, check with your company and any professional organizations to which you belong. Contact your alma mater to see if it has a formal mentoring program in place. In these types of situations, you will probably take a test of some kind that will help the program match you up with the best person for the job. Bam. Mentor assigned.
If that’s not an option, look around! Chances are if you’re outgoing enough, it will be easy to notice someone in your workplace or school with a similar personality as yours. And that’s the key, too. You and your mentor need to be able to click, and you need to both have the same goals for your mentoring relationship in mind. Your mentor should be motivating, and encouraging, and will hopefully provide feedback that will help you define your skills and grow in your career.
What’s working for you?
Do you currently have a mentor or mentee that you consult with regularly? What is your role, and what value have you received from the relationship? Let us know in the comments!