by Dr. Regina Campbell
“I think a role model is a mentor – someone you see on a daily basis, and you learn from them.” Denzel Washington
As you continue to matriculate in your career it is imperative and valuable to your development to have a mentor. The purpose of a mentor is for to confidentially share your how things are going with your career and how you would like to develop so you can move to the next level. Mentors are there to assist you with providing feedback as well as serve as a sounding board. It is best to have a mentor that understands your business (industry) and who understands where you want to go. If you have a mentor within the same organization you work then that person can be your spokesperson to another hiring manager about opportunities that may arise. Also this person can really know how others perceive your work ethics. Sometimes you could be unaware of the perception that precedes you in the organization and a mentor can assist with making sure you have a clear understanding of yourself.
A mentor outside the organization is just as effective if the mentor is from the same industry or has a good understanding of your industry and your career goals. However this mentor will not be able to serve as a spokesperson to better position you within the company you work. Nevertheless this mentor can prepare you for the next opportunity.
The mentor and mentee relationship must establish the rules of engagement first. You as a mentee are responsible for making clear your desired outcome and what you desire to accomplish. For example if you desire to improve your communication skills then you must make that known as well as why you would like to. As a mentee you have to know enough about the mentor as it will determine if that person is capable of providing expert knowledge in the areas of your development. If that is not the case then as a mentee you will not grow and develop. The ultimate purpose of career mentoring is growth and development in areas that the mentee needs to sharpen as to position and prepare you for the next opportunity. What must be understood is that career mentoring is not about friendship and hanging out but strengthening and enhancing. The success of the career mentoring is based upon the level of engagement from both the mentor and mentee. For example setting up regular meeting times and a week prior to the meeting the mentee should provide the agenda of topics for discussion. On the other hand the mentor must take the time to provide articles, books and resources that address the topics which takes for an enriched discussion. This approach will make certain that the meeting time is well spent and productive. At times there will be spare of the moment meetings when the mentee needs advice and it is at those times the mentor’s experience and expertise will be applied. I encourage you to seek out a mentor so you can continue to grow and develop as you seek to advance your career.