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Finding Your Professional Mentor

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interview-adviceBy Adrienne Erin
Online Career Tips, Contributor

Entering the workplace for the first time without guidance can be a scary thought. Finding a professional mentor is a great way to help ease the transition and can also be a useful learning experience.

Mentors want the best for their mentee and are willing to pass their knowledge on to a willing pupil. They’ve already navigated the complicated job search process, typically in your field or a very similar one, and can connect with you on a personal as well as professional level; they may see their younger self in you. Mentors are not easy to find, but with some hard work and dedication anyone can find the right mentor to help them grow professionally.

Know What to Look for in a Mentor

Knowing what to look for in a mentor is a great place to start your search. Professional mentors are usually well respected by their community and hold their position with honor. They are people who have a very well-established self-image and are confident in themselves and their abilities.

A good mentor will not be someone who gives praise easily, but instead is honest with both their compliments and criticisms. They are there to help you with honesty and respect.

Look Everywhere for a Good Mentor

Mentors can be found anywhere, not just in the workplace. Any organizations or associations that you are a part of can be the place you find your mentor. Even family members can be good mentors. Listen and learn to meet people and find out who they truly are. That person you see every day working on their tablet at the coffee shop may be your future mentor!

You may be surprised who is willing to help nurture you professionally. Even family members can be good mentors. It is not so important where your mentor comes from. What is important are the lessons and skills they will teach you. Good mentors can be hiding right in front of you; you just need to look for them.

Be Clear About Your Expectations

In order for someone to be able to effectively mentor you, you must be clear with your mentor on what you want to achieve. Being honest with them about your goals and expectations will help set a strong foundation to how they approach mentoring you. This also means that you need to know before you look for a mentor what you want to achieve.

Your mentor is not responsible for setting your goals; they are just there to help you achieve them. If you are not honest, they will not be able to teach you want you need to know in order to grow. It is also a good idea to schedule a regular time to meet with your mentor so they can check up on your progress and help guide you all along the way.

Mentors have been teaching people throughout the ages how to be better people or better at their career. There have been great mentor-mentee pairs over the years including Ralph Waldo Emerson, who mentored Henry David Thoreau, and Ray Charles, who mentored Quincy Jones. These pairings show how important a good mentor can be to someone who is willing to learn. Finding your mentor is a great step to try and accelerate your career as well as your life.

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