What makes someone a successful professional? It’s not just expertise nor top work performance. It is the ability to accept feedback from peers and supervisors as well as the willingness to put the time in coaching junior members.
For photography students, a mentor can be very helpful to provide guidance on how to transition from the life of a student to one of a professional. After all, they have been in the same shoes as you were not long ago. This is especially the case when you are trying to develop a career in an extremely competitive industry. The advice of a mentor can certainly help you avoid certain pitfalls that will put your career sideways.
Mentors can serve as a great sounding board and help you achieve a better balance between career and life. Having experienced school and varying degrees of a career as a photographer in the industry, their advice may uncover hidden opportunities or even change the course of your career in a positive way.
How do you find a mentor?
A mentor can someone you respect, for instance, an instructor or a senior classmate or even an industry professional. This is where participating in an association can beneficial – a lot of professional associations have mentorship programs in place.
Mentoring can be formal through a program or informal through a series of conversations over coffee. A mentoring relationship is very fluid and not transactional – it needs to benefit both parties or else it will not work. When implemented correctly, this relationship can be one of the most important ones in your career and can last a lifetime.
How do you become a mentor?
The importance of a mentoring culture is to continue the trend. It is up to you to recognize the importance of giving back to a junior classmate or team member just as your mentor did when you first started school or your career. This is one of the ways to fostering a positive culture within the industry that promotes information exchange and develops young professionals.
As a photography student, you may think that you don’t know enough or have sufficient experience to offer to another student. However, as you progress to your senior years of study, think of the experience you have gone through when you first started the program and that you may be able to share some insight which can help a first year student transition smoothly from high school to college.
As a prospective student in a photography program, it may be too soon for you to think about being a mentor. However, a mentor or someone in the industry is available as a resource if you ever have a burning question or need career-related advice. This is an important resource which most people overlook. Remember mentors were in the same shoes as you only a few years ago and most of them are happy to share their insights with you, so don’t be afraid to ask. A mentor can help you navigate the next few