You’ve probably heard about the importance of a mentor in the process of achieving your goals. However, you probably don’t have a mentor (unless you’re one of the lucky few) and are baffled at the abstract idea of a mentor. What is a mentor exactly? How do you find one? What should your expectations of a mentor be? What are the expectations of a mentor?
Mentorship is a very personal, complicated relationship between two people and therefore there is no true definition for it. There is no “right” mentor to find and there is no right way to find one. Basically, you’re on your own to find one and build the relationship, but here are a few tips to try to demystify this very powerful relationship.
Important Trait of the Mentor
The easiest way to find out if someone could potentially be a mentor is to find out if that person has one very important personality trait. That trait is a genuine interest in helping people. Through conversations with many people you will find out who has this trait and who doesn’t. People who spend most of their time talking about themselves and their interests without taking a breather to ask about you is not mentor quality. No matter how
much you might admire this person and what she has achieved, don’t even bother pursuing it.
On the other hand, someone who could be mentor quality is a person who asks deep and probing questions about what you want out of life and being genuinely interested in your answers. This person will almost accidently guide you through your thought processes and help you realize something about yourself that you hadn’t realized yourself. That person has mentor qualities and you should start paying attention.
Finding a Mentor
It depends on where you are in life and what you need at the exact moment in your life that will help guide you to find a mentor. When you are a freshman and setting foot on a college campus for the first time, a potential mentor can be an upperclassman because you need help navigating the complicated college life. When you yourself are an upperclassman, you might need someone who is already working in your chosen field and is willing to guide you through an internship. When you are working your career job, it might be someone else yet again. Don’t just concentrate on college and work, a mentor might help you through your personal relationships as well.
What a Mentor Looks Like
Do not assume that just because you are a woman, your mentor needs to be a woman too. Also don’t assume a mentor must be older than you are. A mentor is someone you click with, who can guide and teach you, and who can support you. Hopefully you will have many different mentors throughout the stages in your life. Also, let’s hope that one day, you’ll be in a position to give back and mentor another person.