Seeking a mentor in your job, whether it is your first job out of college or the last stop on your career path, choosing the right person can be critical to enjoying a successful time with that company, but also achieving your personal and professional goals. A mentor can be someone who you work directly for, someone you work alongside or even someone who has little bearing on your path but is someone you view with a level of respect for their thoughts and views. A mentor does not have to write your reviews and control your future with the company but should be someone who helps you take control of your own future.
When searching for a mentor, many people look for someone who can and will be able to directly lead them to a higher salary, a desired job title, or the opportunity to lead a project or team. But these are not the things that truly drive a mentor-mentee relationship. Look for someone who will challenge your ideas, always ask to you produce effective solutions to problems and will not let you do anything less than your best. The right mentor will also help you recognize areas you can improve in way that allows you to learn from mistakes or less than ideal turnouts without making you feel as if you failed. A true mentor bases the success of the relationship on you hitting your end goals, goals you have chose for yourself, not ones they have set for you. Don’t grab onto the first person in your new job when you start and ask them to be your mentor; instead, probe around the people near you to find someone that is going to be your biggest advocate for your success.
Last, do not be afraid to move on from a mentor as you transition through your career because each will have their own expiration date as you grow. They do not have to leave your life entirely but may just fold to the background. Eventually you will become the mentor for someone else further down your career path and remember these lessons as crucial to success because they will be the same drivers that guide that relationship, just in reverse.
Mentorship can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a career path, both as a mentor and a mentee, and choosing correctly is a hard, but worthwhile decision to make.