Whether you're in school, entering the workforce, or looking into switching careers, finding the right mentor(s) — who can offer guidance, direction, and access to people and resources — is key.
At Explo, we believe in mentors. Administrators mentor staff, our staff are trained to mentor students, and our students (through the Explo Ambassador Program) have formalized training on ways to mentor their peers. Building mentor relationships serves as the foundation for everything we do, from designing our programs to consulting with other educators and institutions around the world.
So when we came across this article by Benjamin Hurdy, a doctoral student in the field of Organizational Psychology, we were so excited, because it outlines so many of the reasons why finding and building the right mentor relationships are so vital. Check out many of his central points below.
As Success Mentor Darren Hardy says, "Never take advice from someone you wouldn't switch places with." When choosing a potential mentor, ask yourself these two questions: (1) Is this person working in the field I want to pursue, doing and achieving the things I want to do and achieve; and (2), Does this person have relevant and practical wisdom (gained from experience) to pass down to you?
Make Sure You're Serious
Without question, the individuals you want to become your mentor have schedules that are full to bursting. So why should they take you on? "We need to stop telling them, 'Get a mentor and you will excel,'" Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, says. "Instead we need to tell them, 'Excel and you will get a mentor.'"
You've found the right mentor(s), and you're well on your way to proving yourself worthy of their time and investment. Now what may feel like the hardest step of all — the ask — is the most crucial. "You miss every shot you don't take," Benjamin Hardy writes. "You lose nothing by asking and getting rejected. However, you fail by default by not asking at all. Are you willing to put yourself out there?"
Help Your Mentor (Help You)
The number one rule here: Become indispensable. Make your mentor's life easier by exceeding their expectations on any assignments or tasks that come your way. Make their goals your goals, free up their time, and get them looking forward to working with you.
Learn to Let Go
Example: You have a mentor, but your current mentor's research isn't in the area in which you want to focus, or isn't helping you access the career or field of study you're most interested in. It's time to learn to let go of mentorships that don't work for you — with grace and gratitude — and focus on cultivating ones that do.
Pay It Forward
"Never stop seeking help from those who are where you are," Benjamin Hardy writes. "At the same time, don't neglect those who could use your help.... Serving others will turn you into a mentor yourself. And you will always find more joy in helping others succeed than in obtaining your own success."
To discover the rest of Benjamin Hurdy's advice on finding a mentor, read his article in full.