Updated: Sep 28, 2020
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey
Gaining advice from a mentor provides enrichment to your career. It is important to have a mentor who can guide you regarding career related choices or even help you open yourself up to new perspectives and possibilities you didn’t know existed. But always remember that you, the mentee, are in the driving seat and to effectively drive a mentorship initiative, here’s what you can do:
Research your mentor. Pre-determine what you can get out of this person (a Linkedin profile gives you a lot of information from common connections to the person’s existing network outside of their illustrated work experience). This person may work or have worked for a company you have been aspiring to work for.
Work out what you want to gain from this experience. A mentor is someone who can guide you towards your goals. You could email your questions in advance, or write down what exactly you expect the mentor to help you with. This help could range from knowledge on effective sales tools, introductions to people the mentor knows or a new job.
Prepare an agenda. This will help you optimize your time and stay on task. Begin with a small introduction and then branch out to your various queries or problems.
Be open about your needs. As empathetic and intuitive the mentor might be, they are not a mind reader. Be open about what you require help with. Remember, they are here to help.
Probably the most important step; ask many questions. Be hungry for knowledge and build the urge to learn as much as possible from them. As mentioned earlier, write down questions you already have. This gives way to a more structured and productive discussion.
Feel free to disagree. You shouldn’t feel like you have to take every single piece of advice your mentor gives you without question. If you disagree with something they’ve said, tell them, in a respectful manner. It will lead to a discussion with much more value than if you simply nodded your head in agreement.
Be open to constructive criticism. The mentor wants what is best for you, and to achieve the goal you set out to reach, it is important to be open and receptive to feedback and being coached.
After the session ends, follow up with an email thanking the mentor for their time and summarizing the discussion. You can also share a relevant article or resource tool you have come across. Connect with your mentor on Linkedin, if you haven’t already.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you: You produce it. You live it Bruce Mau
Just like the quote says, it is important to take initiative to grow, personally and professionally. You have already taken the first step in doing so. I hope this helps and inspires you in your journey as a mentee!
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