August 30, 2021 3 min read
Do you meet with a mentor on a regular basis?
If not... then you are probably missing out on valuable advice and guidance that can help you with your career!
I've had mentors throughout my professional career, and always found their perspective to be very valuable. Often they can help you to reach whatever goal you have for your career, whether short-term or long-term.
So what is a mentor, anyway?
A mentor is really anyone who is willing to meet with you on a regular basis to provide you with advice and coaching on your current position, your work plan and your career. They can be someone within your organization, within your company... or even someone external to your company but whom is familiar with your situation.
I've found from personal experience that it's best to find a mentor who is two levels above you in your company, but not in your direct reporting line. A person in this position is likely to have a better perspective on your career opportunities than your direct manager. If you are not directly reporting to them they'll probably feel more empowered to give you "unfiltered" advice and perhaps even a competitive advantage over your peers.
If your company isn't very large, consider finding a mentor who's not in your group but who may still know the organization and culture enough to provide you with some guidance. Bob in Accounting may not know what you do on a daily basis, but he may have insights as to how people in your group are evaluated and considered for promotions.
If your company is so small that you really don't have someone internal that you can use as a mentor, consider reaching out to others outside of your company instead. Perhaps you know people from professional societies that you're involved with, or people that you used to work with but have moved on to another job. As long as they're familiar with your job and your organization they could still provide you with some valuable guidance and coaching.
Also consider that you can have more than one mentor- you might want to have one who is more familiar with your technical work, one who has a better perspective of the organization, and one who thinks out-of-the-box and has lots of ideas.
Ok, so how do you get a mentor?
Easy- you just have to ask someone!
Explain to them that you would really value their perspective as a mentor, and let them know upfront how often you would like to meet (maybe monthly). It's been surprising to me how often people will say "yes", even if they appear to be very busy. People are often flattered to be asked to be a mentor, and they will make time in their schedules to help you.
The reason why people will often help you as a mentor is because helping others succeed in their careers provides them with satisfaction. They enjoy seeing the people that they mentor succeed in their careers, much like a proud parent. It's really a win-win situation for both the mentor and mentee!
Being a mentor has certainly provided me with a lot of satisfaction, similar to the satisfaction that I get when I can produce Continuing Education content that other Professional Engineers and Surveyors enjoy and value.
Creating courses for Pro Engineer Development has helped me to connect with many other professionals like yourself, and has provided me with the encouragement and feedback that motivates me to continue producing even better content.
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