How to get a Mentor at Work
So, you’ve got yourself a job. That’s great! As you may have noticed, there are probably people at your organization who may be older than you are, or have more experience than you do. This is a good thing because these people can potentially be your mentor!
What is a mentor? “Mentor” is just a specific word for someone who shares his or her knowledge, advice, and resources with another. A mentor may share information about his or her own career path, provide guidance, and help with motivation. A mentor is there when you need a morale boost or need advice on how to get a promotion. Sounds great, right? The question is- how do you get one of these?
A mentoring relationship usually happens naturally within the workplace. At my first job out of undergrad, I worked at a non-profit mental health agency. All of my colleagues were a few years older than me and I was able to develop a mentoring relationship with a woman who sat near me in our office. When I was new, she would help me if I had questions, we ate lunch together, and generally discussed our work. It was helpful to have our mentoring relationships when I needed advice on how to approach my supervisor for a raise and ask questions about her career path and how she got to where she was within our organization.
Here are a few recommendations on how to find a mentor at work!
- Find someone who is similar to you in values, goals, achievements. A mentor should be someone you want to be emulate and be like. Find someone who has similar skills and strengths before spending your time with someone who you realize isn’t a good fit.
- Let the relationship form naturally. How awkward would it be if a younger student came up to you and asked you to be their mentor? You’d probably say something like, “uhhh sure.” Flat out asking an individual can put them in an uncomfortable position. You can’t force a mentoring relationship, just let it happen! As I mentioned earlier, grab lunch with someone you identify with at work, stop by their office with questions, send them emails with a current event relevant to your work. These are all ways to strike up conversations and allow that relationship to form organically.
- Be a good mentee. Although your mentor has more experience in the field or industry than you do, it is still a reciprocal relationship. In order to get (and keep!) a mentor at work, you want to be someone who is enjoyable to mentor. In other words, be sure to respectful of your mentor’s time and be flexible.
- Seek out more than one. There’s no rule or law against having more than one workplace mentor! Find someone who has a different perspective, or maybe has a different skill set from you. This person can help challenge your thinking and maybe help you find additional ways to approach problems and find solutions.
Having a mentor at work is incredibly helpful for your career and your own personal growth. Start forging these relationships early in your career, as they are valuable in helping you define your direction within your industry.