Many a times, we young adults, require someone that can help navigate the trials and tribulations of a new career or during one’s career.
Mentorship often begins in an educational environment and can also be community-based. Depending on the goals of the relationship, the mentor and mentee don’t necessarily have to be in the same industry or be one person. You can have multiple mentors, in diverse industries, interests, and niches.
Mentorship helps in many ways. It provides guidance, helps gain confidence, develop new skillsets and even help get promotion. However, the task at hand is always in knowing who to mentor you. A lot of people want mentorship but do not even know what they actually want to learn, while some others proclaim certain people “mentors” without even asking themselves whether that person is a good fit or even possesses the ability to mentor them right.
So, if you are looking for someone to mentor you, especially if you are just getting started with something new, here is what you should look out for in a mentor:
1. Teachability: As a young adult seeking a mentor, you need someone that can translate theories to practicals. Someone that can communicate effectively, the lessons he has learned over the years as well as the survival strategies, in a way that you, as a mentee, can understand and learn from. At the end of it all, you should end up more skilled, not only in your chosen area, but also in other spheres.
2. Approachable and Available: Seek a mentor that is easy to approach for advice or consultation. It does no good if you cannot communicate how you feel and what you need help with, to your mentor. Also, you need someone that is available to tutor you. If your mentor is always unreachable, how can you then tap from his/her wealth of knowledge? Even though you can argue that the internet has reduced barriers to communication, you can’t as well argue that physical form is always more desirable. However, it’s always best to establish a particular day and time for regular sessions or meetings.
3. Knowledge and Expertise: The mistake many of us make often is that when we find a mentor, is to seek monetary value that they can offer. Rather than this oh s approach, it is advisable that you seek what they know and what they are good at. This will in turn, prove your readiness to learn and model in their footsteps. The essence of mentorship is for you to learn their ways of doing things, how they achieved success, and how they overcame obstacles, so that your own journey is shorter than that of your mentor.
4. Challenging: A good mentor should be challenging and be able to make you come out from your shell. I mean, do something different from what and how you are used to doing things. A good mentor should be able to push you to do new things and even knows how far to push you. He should be your biggest champion; applauding you when you do something right, and your toughest critic; challenging you to do it different when you fail. Of course, you are going to feel burdened and want to fight it at some point, but that is what mentoring is about. Your mentor should constantly be able to make you feel comfortably uncomfortable for you to crawl out of your own skin, because that is what growth feels like and is the only way to truly make a difference.
5. Voluntary investment: Having a mentor that is willing to invest in you through his/her knowledge and experience is a plus for any mentee. Mentorship is an exchange of value between both parties. A mentee, should also be able to provide value, not an entitlement to the mentor’s wealth of knowledge and experience, for that is a value he/she has decided to share with you. Be of service to your mentor. It is a value in exchange to sharpen your skillset and broaden your horizon, while tappinv from your mentor’s guidance. So, no-one is sucking anyone dry and it becomes a win-win investment for both sides.
And as a bonus, seek someone that practises what he preaches. Someone who does as he says, and not someone that says “do as I say, not what I do.”
Finding a mentor is an art and an honest decision. You must be able to create the time for it and with the right person. Sometimes it just happens, but it needs to start from a place of truth; the willingness and readiness to endure the process. It is a test of patience on both parties. It requires commitment, dedication, and the need to be open, constantly. It is however, one of the greatest experience anyone could possibly have. And so, in the end, it is always worth it.
WRITTEN BY: ZAYNAB MOHAMMAD