I recently went to a dinner party with some very intelligent women who all work in social media, online community management, and social good. We all discussed the commonalities of working in these fields and the also the joys and struggles we encountered in our jobs. One common theme that everyone separately brought up at one point throughout the night was the value of a mentor. All the women I was with said that the one thing they wished they had when looking for a job and even today after working for a few years, is a solid mentor.
A mentor can mean many things but to me it isn’t necessarily someone holding your hand and writing your resume, it is someone who understands where you are coming from and where you are heading. A mentor can use their seasoned expertise to advise you on many career lessons. When starting a career or even a new job there are so many things to learn and that are expected of you, being able to ask questions and seek advice from someone who has been there is priceless.
Until my job now I never had a boss who was available to share knowledge and advice and criticism openly with me so I had to just make mistakes and learn from them. It is not likely that your boss will have time to be your mentor and give you guidance outside of work so it is important that you seek out someone who will. I am not sure there is any methodology to finding a mentor but people that have been there for me I have met many people through networking, family friends and different experiences working with other companies that I have been able to gain valuable insight from.
In order to maintain a relationship or build one with someone who can help you and give you direction there is just one key thing you need to do: ASK QUESTIONS! If you don’t ask questions you cannot expect to receive any kind of help or guidance. You would be surprised but people are actually quite flattered and are more than willing to give you a couple minutes if they know that you are looking to them for advice because you respect and look up to them. In turn it is a symbiotic relationship because you are gaining information and they feel accomplished in being able to offer it up.
So don’t be afraid to reach out for some help and guidance in the crazy working world I promise you will not regret it!