Mentor

To Find A Mentor, You Must Be A Student

Advertisement

I was lucky. In my first job after college, I had a great mentor who took an active role in my career development.

He pushed. I listened.

Actually, make that ‘hung on every word.’ The fact that anyone would take time out of their schedule to coach a newbie like me was a gift… and I knew it.

Example: When I asked for a raise, he made me “demonstrate I was worth it” by…

  • Reading a series of books (How to Win Friends and Influence People, etc.).
  • Writing a paper about what I learned from each one.
  • Finding an operational problem in the office and solving it using TQM processes. (The result was a binder of information and charts.)

Along the way, there were a lot of naysayers who thought he was just stalling because he didn’t want to pay me more or give me the promotion. In fact, many people I spoke to were borderline appalled someone would have to jump through so many hoops to earn a raise they were probably entitled to anyway.

But I knew better.

Eventually, I did get the promotion. I’m sure it’s not surprising that I was better prepared to tackle the new challenges because of all of the pre-work I had done in advance. Since then, my old boss has had many new professionals work under him. Yet, he’s had no official “mentee” since me. When I asked him why, he said “No students.”

In other words, finding a mentor is only half the battle. After that, you must be a good student. Listen gratefully. Apply what you’ve learned to your work. Demonstrate enthusiasm so he/she feels their investment in you is meaningful. It’s not the quickest route to success by any stretch, but I promise you the journey is its own reward.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Emily Bennington

Emily Bennington is coauthor of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job. She is also a contributing writer for Monster.com and a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, Forbes Woman, and US News and World Report.

7 comments

  1. We can attain personfication only things are obtained from Guru. Likewise, in which direction we are going ahead can be guided only by a Guru who is our Mentor. This is quintessential for progress in all environments. It is not teacher but it is us who has to find teacher or mentor for progress in career or life.

  2. Excellent commentary – establish a learning mentality to grow. Only through opening your preconceptions will you move beyond your current position. Sounds massively Zen but, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. I'm 56 and I've been fortunate to have three mentors. I've also mentored over a dozen professionals. A key that I have found to help build success is that it's frequently not a good idea to have the mentor as your immediate supervisor.

    Then again… Maybe it's the level of professional growth that I've attained that has caused me to make the statement above. In the past dozen or so years I've found that people within my close range of friends and fellow employees all seemed to have basically the same perspectives. What they could give me – even those two steps above my “position” was merely a slightly modified reflection of what I already knew. So, here is my “expanded” view of mentoring:

    Find someone who is successful in a wide range of fields away from what you are currently doing. Establish a dialog and work to discover the methods they used to get where they are. These are the folks who can open your brain to new ideas and ne methodologies of pursuing success. They're hard as h$## to locate but, once you have one, work to learn whatever they are willing to share.

  3. Excellent commentary – establish a learning mentality to grow. Only through opening your preconceptions will you move beyond your current position. Sounds massively Zen but, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. I'm 56 and I've been fortunate to have three mentors. I've also mentored over a dozen professionals. A key that I have found to help build success is that it's frequently not a good idea to have the mentor as your immediate supervisor.

    Then again… Maybe it's the level of professional growth that I've attained that has caused me to make the statement above. In the past dozen or so years I've found that people within my close range of friends and fellow employees all seemed to have basically the same perspectives. What they could give me – even those two steps above my “position” was merely a slightly modified reflection of what I already knew. So, here is my “expanded” view of mentoring:

    Find someone who is successful in a wide range of fields away from what you are currently doing. Establish a dialog and work to discover the methods they used to get where they are. These are the folks who can open your brain to new ideas and ne methodologies of pursuing success. They're hard as h$## to locate but, once you have one, work to learn whatever they are willing to share.

  4. Excellent commentary – establish a learning mentality to grow. Only through opening your preconceptions will you move beyond your current position. Sounds massively Zen but, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. I'm 56 and I've been fortunate to have three mentors. I've also mentored over a dozen professionals. A key that I have found to help build success is that it's frequently not a good idea to have the mentor as your immediate supervisor.

    Then again… Maybe it's the level of professional growth that I've attained that has caused me to make the statement above. In the past dozen or so years I've found that people within my close range of friends and fellow employees all seemed to have basically the same perspectives. What they could give me – even those two steps above my “position” was merely a slightly modified reflection of what I already knew. So, here is my “expanded” view of mentoring:

    Find someone who is successful in a wide range of fields away from what you are currently doing. Establish a dialog and work to discover the methods they used to get where they are. These are the folks who can open your brain to new ideas and ne methodologies of pursuing success. They're hard as h$## to locate but, once you have one, work to learn whatever they are willing to share.

  5. While you bring up a good point you also commit a grave error by associating a mentor-protege relationship with money. The main goal of having a mentor isn't for financial benefit…it is in fact to be a lifelong learner and believer in personal and professional development. All in all a good post, but remuneration shouldn't be linked with a useful and fruitful mentorship.

    • In this case, the mentor is also a boss/ reporting manager who played two roles:
      1. Developing his mentee.
      2. Getting the day-to-day job done.

      Therefore, mentioning remuneration is totally fair.

      The mentors way of making his mentee prove his worth for the promotion and pay hike by making him executing the desired jobs, measuring the effectivity and giving him a hike based on results is much appreciated.

      This is the way people reporting to leaders (or effective managers) grow within organizations.

      Rgds,
      Sarath

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *