Want to Propel Your Career Goals? Find a Mentor

By Michele Richardson

CTU - The importance of mentoring by Michele RichardsonWhether you’re embarking on a new career path or you’re stuck in a career plateau, a mentor can move you career in the direction you want it to go. Mentoring is one of the most powerful, effective ways to learn and grow professionally. Mentoring can help you:

  • Develop critical skills needed to advance your career
  • Tackle challenges and other career road blocks
  • Improve your interpersonal and communication skills
  • Enlarge your perspective and thinking
  • Grow your professional network

But having a mentor isn’t enough. To make the relationship work, you need to know what a mentor is and what to expect.

What is mentoring?

First and foremost, mentoring is a partnership between two people who share a common goal to grow personally and professionally. The “mentor” is an experienced professional who shares knowledge and insights with a less experienced “mentee.” A mentor takes a personal interest in your career goals and acts as a role model, offering advice and encouragement as you pursue your career goals.

It’s important to understand that a mentor is not responsible for your career growth – you are. Approach the relationship with an open-mind and be willing to act on the advice you receive. Also recognize that the most successful mentoring relationships offer benefits to both the mentor and the mentee. Some people become mentors to “pay it forward,” while others are looking to improve their leadership and communication skills. Mentoring should benefit both parties.

Are you ready for mentoring?

Mentoring sounds great and you’re excited about what you might achieve from the partnership, but are you ready? Before you engage in a mentoring relationship be sure to:

  • Clarify what you want. Mentoring relationships can form in a variety of ways, from a formal mentoring program offered by an employer to an informal relationship that convenes over monthly coffee meet-ups. Before you dive into mentoring, spend time thinking about what you want to get out of it. Be specific. Having a clear idea of your expectations helps ease the process of finding the right mentor and gets the relationship off to a strong start.
  • Be receptive. A fundamental part of mentoring is personal and professional growth, and to grow you must be willing to change. A mentor will share experiences and offer advice, but you’re in charge of taking action. Sometimes the advice will force you to stretch outside of your comfort zone. If you’re not open learning or trying a different approach to tackling your career goals, you may not be ready for mentoring.

Finding the right mentor

Now that you’ve decided you need a mentor and you’re ready to engage in a productive mentoring relationship, it’s time to find a mentor. Of course, that may be easier said than done.
Finding a mentor can be tough and it might take some time. You may be tempted to ask your boss to be your mentor, but that’s not advised. The nature of the supervisory role can create awkward moments in the mentoring relationship. An alternative is to look outside of your immediate department or company. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Start with who you know. Mine your LinkedIn connections to uncover potential mentors. Depending on your goals, you might approach someone who is outside of your industry and career interests because he or she has specific skills, like leadership, that would be helpful in your career growth.
  • Use your alumni network. Your past high school or college is a great place to reconnect with old contacts and form new relationships with those who share a common experience. Access the alumni services for your school to find out how to get in touch with potential mentors. You might reach out to people individually or attend an alumni event.
  • Look down and across, not up. Most people think a mentor must be someone older, wiser and more senior in their career path. That’s not always true. A mentor can be younger than you and have a more junior ranking job title. But if they have a specific skill or area of expertise you want to tap into, then they might be a good fit.

A mentor is a valuable asset for many successful professionals. The key to forming a good mentoring relationship is to think “mutual benefit” and to be open to possibilities. Also remember that a mentoring relationship will look different for everyone so don’t get wrapped up in one specific way of making it happen. As you begin seeking a mentor, chances are, you’ll land in a place you never expected.

What step will you take to find a mentor? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below. 

CTU Career Advice - Michele RichardsonA seasoned HR/organization development professional turned copywriter in 2005, Michele Richardson specializes in content strategy and writing for the digital world. When she’s not working or writing, you can find her curled up with a book and cup of Americano or training for her next half-marathon. Catch up with her on Google+ or Twitter.

Stay in the know. 
Subscribe to CTU’s blog and receive fresh updates directly to your inbox. Join us.

Image credit: Flickr/ jurvetson

Copyright © 2016 Colorado Technical University (CTU). All rights reserved. No information may be duplicated without CTU's permission. The CTU logo is a registered trademark of Career Education Corporation. CTU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. Programs vary by location and modality; see catalog for details. Financial aid is available for those who qualify. See the Accreditation & Licensure section for information on the agencies that approve and regulate the school's programs, including relevant complaint procedures here. Find employment rates, financial obligations and other disclosures below.

Privacy Statement Legal Terms and Conditions Student Disclosures Sitemap Student Safety Contact Us

 (855) 230-0555

Terms and Conditions By providing your mobile number, you agree to receive text messages from Colorado Tech via its mobile text message provider.  You may opt out of receiving messages by texting the word STOP to 94576, or simply reply with the word STOP to any text message you receive from Colorado Tech. While CEC or its mobile text message provider will not charge end users for receiving/responding to promotional messages, depending on the terms of your mobile phone plan, you may incur a cost from your mobile service carrier to receive and respond to any promotional text messages (standard messaging and data rates/fees and other charges may apply).  Charges will appear on your mobile phone bill or will be deducted from pre-paid amounts.  Current participating/supported carriers are: Alltel, AT&T, Boost, Cellcom, Cellular One, Cellular South, Cincinnati Bell, Cricket, Element Wireless, Golden State Cellular, iWireless, Metro PCS, Nextel, nTelos, Plateau Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon Wireless, Viaero Wireless, Virgin, and more.×