Being a mentor is not necessarily about becoming a mentor. You see, I grew up and learned from the knowledge and wisdom of several mentors. Mentors who taught me resilience and guided me to learn from every mistake that came my way. To find this type of mentor, you should look for someone who is honest and makes you feel safe.
Mentoring young women is just one way I give back to the life I was given. I realize that not everyone has someone to share intimate conversations with. I remember having at least one mentor in some of the darkest moments of my marriage, motherhood, and my career.
According to an article published by NPR earlier this month, the right mentor can help change your career. In the article, reporters Anjuli Sastry and Andee Tagle breaks down the steps to landing a good mentor. According to the article, someone must know and understand their short and long-term goals. In addition to identifying goals, people seeking mentors must ask themselves who they look up to? Think about those characteristics and find those in potential mentors. Additionally, the NPR article suggests that people seeking mentors should do their research. People should ask themselves what are the stepping stones to get to certain career goals.
The article also encourages people seeking mentors to be cognizant of their existing work. By doing this, it is more effective to maybe consider who is around you that may already be serving at a mentorship capacity to your career. Pay attention to those around you and be aware of how those people can lend themselves to you as a mentor.
It’s incredibly important, as the article points out, to recognize the difference between a mentor and a sponsor. Most people tend to confuse the two. A mentor is someone who gives advice and guidance. A sponsor is someone that helps you fund your goals and advocate on your behalf in rooms that you may not be able to get into.
A mentor is a part of your support system and more importantly a friend. You have to be willing to ask for help and be humble enough to receive help and advice. It’s also important that you are a good friend so that you can attract a mentor that is also your friend. Show up when your mentor asks you to, just as you’d want your mentor to show up for you.
I knew that as my life grew and my goals became more clear, part of my journey was to mentor young women. I dreamed of being that person that young women needed but couldn’t truly find in their best friends, parents, teachers, and even in their significant-others. Several mentoring relationships have created opportunities for me to even learn more about myself. Be open and realize that there are things in your life that can change for the better. It’s important to see different perspectives, try new things, and stay the course – and these are all things a good mentor will encourage, but you must be open to change and be open to constructive criticism.
The final step in successfully seeking a mentor is making the ask. Prepare an elevator pitch to be clear about your goals and why you think that person is a good fit to mentor you through your career goals. Be honest with yourself and make sure that person is the right fit for you and your goals.
-Terrie Simmons, MBA, CEO Strategic Exceptions INC, Founder of Terrie Talks Tea, Founder of Lewis Simmons Foundation
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