Best Practice

Tips on how to choose a mentor to help your career development

Mentors can help you in many ways throughout your career. They can help you gain confidence, lead a happier life, guide you through your challenges, develop skills in a new job, and get promoted.

Everyone who is ambitious, curious, hardworking, and creative should have a mentor to help them reach their end goal.

Throughout my Internal Communication (IC) career, I have always strived to have someone who is more experienced, rational, resourceful and determined than I am to guide me through my challenges and vision.

In total, I had two mentors since I embarked into the world of IC, each of which guided me through a different stage based on what I wanted to achieve, and when I wanted to achieve it.

Mentors are like therapists, they are not your best friend and they are only here to help you succeed.

For example, the first mentor helped me understand what IC meant and what skills/ traits I needed to acquire in order to succeed in my mid-level management career, whereas my second mentor is helping me grasp the world of business, how I can be a strong leader and finally how I can become a board member within a FTSE100 organization. In other words “overcome imposter syndrome”

Don’t be fooled in thinking it’s easy to determine and find the right mentor

I have approached several individuals explaining why I would love for them to mentor me and what I think I can achieve through learning from them. To date (more than 2 yrs.) I have yet to hear back from some of them.

When choosing my mentors here are the guidelines I follow:

  1. Clarity in what I want to achieve: I tend to use the GROW model (Goals, Reality, Options, Will) before I decide if I need a mentor or not. Without a set goal, I won’t be able to add any value to our relationship or convince them to mentor me.
  2. Contrast: someone who is not in my field (Communications), someone who would help me step out of my comfort zone and challenge what I say and do with fresh eyes.
  3. Trust: Someone whom I can trust and listen to when providing me with advice. Without trust, I won’t feel comfortable being honest with them and exposing my vulnerability.
  4. Role Model: Someone who I can look up to and want to achieve that he/she has achieved. I do so by following their social media, hearing them speak and even meeting them. If I feel that they have the same values, personality, and ambition then he/she is the one for me.
  5. Personality: I am the type of person who REALLY does not appreciate running around the bush or speaking in a diplomatic way. Hence my mentors have similar personalities and this allows me to stop them when I feel that they are being careful with their advice or sentence.

I am certain that you would have different ways of choosing a mentor or career coach. At the end of the day what matters is having someone whom you respect enough to guide you throughout your insecurities.

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