Mentors can change your career in such a positive way, that I always urge my young lady tribe who are just starting out their career to seek one. But finding a mentor is not that easy, especially for women in careers that are male dominant. Sure you can have male mentors, I’ve had a few during my career and they were no doubt instrumental in making a positive impact on me. But something about women having female mentors is different. If you find the right fit, this mentor can be your ally, your guide on how to navigate the workplace. Female mentors understand the ever constant juggle of career and motherhood.
Here are some tips I’ve learned to find the mentor for you!
- Do not ask someone if they can be your mentor but rather EARN it. We have sent the wrong message to women telling them “get a mentor and you will excel.” Rather we should be teaching women that hard work and perseverance will attract the right mentor. It’s always awkward for me when a random person I barely know asks me if I can be their mentor. The word mentor shouldn’t even have to come up. It’s a natural relationship that forms after you’ve proven that it’s worth putting in the work to mentor you.
- Finding a mentor will not be instantaneous. Good relationships take time to develop. It takes getting to know each other, working together and meeting multiple times. Always be prepared and ask smart questions.
- Your mentor is not prince charming, do not be too dependent on them.There’s a misunderstanding that having a mentor will catapult your career, but that’s simply not true. Having a mentor does help tremendously, but again you must put in the work. You can’t just put in your hours and leave. You need to socialize in a professional way, be an active part of the workplace and be engaging. Examples include attending conferences that your work might be organizing, volunteer to prepare a presentation. Unfortunately, men have an easier time finding and maintaining mentors because they have more time to give. Many women are often faced with having to rush home to attend to children.
- Mentors select proteges that will also be of benefit to them. Relationships are a two way street. Studies show that mentors select proteges that have high potential and can benefit from their help. Some benefits includes more commitment from their colleagues, learning new and useful information and a sense of pride and fulfillment when their mentee succeeds.
- You must be OPEN to feedback. I can always tell if I’m able to mentor someone by how they respond to feedback. Negative feedback is not personal, it’s meant to improve on your weaknesses and strengths. What kind of mentor would someone be if they only gave praise. Bottom line: seek negative feedback, it’s much appreciated from the mentor’s side.
What advice do you have to help women further their mentor relationships? Comment below.