What is a mentor?
A mentor is someone who gives a young and/or less experienced person help and guidance, especially in a job or at school. The aim is to help them progress and develop in a workplace, career or at school.
Why do you need one?
Having a mentor will help you will help give you focus and direction as well as helping you with career growth. Mentors share their experience and advice based on their experiences from a similar backgroung/field. Mentors are also really helpful when it comes to setting and achieving goals. Your mentor will be your accountability partner, which is someone who makes sure you achieve you are doing everything you can to reach your set goals and targets. Mentors also help provide clarity on how you should go about goal-setting and working towards your goals (taking action).
How do you appraoch someone and ask them to be your mentor?
Depending on how well you know the person, we suggest calling, sending a text or sending an email to the person you would like to be your mentor and explaining to them that you need guidance and support in your studies and/or career. Its vital that you express what makes you think they will be a suitable mentor, for example, what specifically about their career do you like and want to emulate. What have they achieved that you would like to achieve and also what exactly do you believe you need help with and how do you want them to help. You need to state whether you want to have in-person meetings, email exchanges, zoom calls or phone calls and how frequent you would like these to be. It’s important that you take into account that the person you want as a mentor is busy and may not have more than an 30 minutes to 1 hour every week, two weeks or month to speak with you and have these exchanges. Depending on how busy they are or how busy you assume they are, take this into consideration when choosing a format/schedule for sessions.
It is also important to note that some people may not have capacity at all. Do not feel disheartned if you cannot be mentored by your ideal choice. It is a good idea to ask if you could contact them again in the future when they are less busy or if you they could advise you on who they think could be a good mentor (someone who has capacity to take this on). Being a mentor is not a small commitment and some people will not want to commit and then realise they do not have enough time.
Where do you find mentors?
Mentors can be found at;
- your place of work – someone senior to you
- On our platform (send us an email)
- at a networking event
- on LinkedIn
- within your network (family friends, parents friends, friends older siblings etc)
- within your university
- within your dream company (do your research)
Benefits of having a mentor
- Increased knowledge
- Constructive criticism
- Personal growth
- Words of encouragement
- Firm boundaries (setting priorities, advising on balancing work-life)
- Unbiased opinions
- Trusted ally
- Goal setting
- New perspective
- Networking and making new contacts
If you need help drafting a message to a mentor, think of these points:
- state who you are and what level you are at (example: university student, graduate or job seeker, just entered the job market)
- state why you have contacted them (seeking a mentor with their experience, knowledge and achievements)
- state how they can help you (what you need help with – goal setting, career advice, networking etc)
- state how frequent you would like to be in contact with them if they were to accept (take into consideration that they may have a busy schedule)
- Conclude by saying how you think this will benefit you and your journey and thank them for reading the email
We hope this helps you find your mentor!
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