Sometimes you just need a chance, an opportunity and a little guidance. Whether you’re an intern or a seasoned veteran in your field, we can all think of someone (or many people) who helped us get where we are today in our career and provided meaningful guidance along the way. Professional mentorship is an invaluable asset as we continue to grow both personally and professionally, and whether you’re the mentor or mentee at this point in your career—mentorship helps make us all better.
A good professional mentor challenges us. They push us beyond our current capabilities and show us how we can do better. To advance in your career, you must grow in your skillset, knowledge and relationships, and a good mentor understands where you’re at in your career development, and provides suggestions and ideas of how you can move forward.
If your mentor is someone higher up at your current company, look to their work and ask questions like how they got into their current role. Ask them what it was like when they started, how the company has developed, and how to build relationships and skills that will help you grow and benefit your company. And most importantly, watch what they’re doing and see what professional traits and skills you can emulate that will help you be more successful in your current role.
Failure is also a key part of career growth, and where mentorship can be incredibly valuable. Maybe you feel like you failed at a project, didn’t get the promotion you were hoping for, or are facing unexpected adversity at work. These things can be hard to handle, but you’re not the only one who has faced setbacks. A good mentor can help guide you, and share their own experiences of how they overcame their own career obstacles. No one becomes a CEO overnight, after all!
What’s also important to remember is mentors come to us in many ways. Sometimes, it’s about formally asking for help. Maybe you meet for coffee once a month asking for specific career advice. Other times, we may not even know someone is impacting our careers and helping us grow until we look back on that project, that experience or that promotion.
Many mentors also find that when they’re able to discuss their careers and impart their knowledge to another, it helps them better assess their own skills and where they can improve too. Bouncing ideas off one another often offers new perspectives and key insights.
Perhaps most importantly when it comes to mentorship, don’t be afraid to ask for advice and don’t be afraid to offer it! You can grow leaps and bounds professionally as you learn new skills, how to better navigate relationships and situations, and become more self-aware of your strengths and where you can improve.
Professional mentorship can make a huge difference in your career trajectory, so look to others as you look to grow in your career.