For young professionals, a mentorship can be invaluable when getting started in your field. Here are four tips to help you make the most of a mentorship experience.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “there are no stupid questions” before. When speaking with your mentor, this phrase is 100% true. Although it may feel embarrassing to ask about the basics of your field, remember that everyone – including your mentor – had to start from somewhere. It’s better to ask an “obvious” question than stay in the dark; sometimes, the answer may be more complex than you think.
Remember that your mentor is aware of the job they signed up for. They are expecting to answer many entry-level questions, so you shouldn’t hold yourself back from getting all of the info you can.
Set Specific Goals
When beginning a mentorship, there are several questions you can ask yourself to help you streamline and ultimately make the most of your experience. Some questions to start with are:
- What new skills do you want to learn?
- What old skills do you want to improve?
- Which professionals do you want to connect with?
By setting concrete goals early on in your mentorship experience, you can work towards completing them from day one. Thinking in the long term may also give you insight into what you want career-wise, not just from your mentorship.
Meet in Real Time
When it comes to building a professional connection, face-to-face conversation remains the most powerful tool in a young professional’s arsenal. In the digital age, however, there are many more ways to achieve this. Visiting the office or meeting for coffee is no longer essential. Platforms like Zoom, WebEx, and Google Meet are all perfectly acceptable (and convenient!) ways of achieving facetime. Although emailing back and forth is a good way to get some questions answered, meeting semi-regularly with your mentor ensures that they truly get to know you as a person and as a professional.
So you’ve scheduled a face-to-face meeting… now what? To get the most out of your meeting, draft a rough itinerary for the topics you want to talk about. You could either do this on your own or collaborate with your mentor to map out discussion topics in advance. Preparation leads to a more efficient meeting, leaving a good impression and showing that you respect your mentor’s time. Planning ahead also benefits you as a mentee, since you can ensure that no important topics are left out. Finally, creating an itinerary and leading efficient meetings is an extremely useful skill in the workplace; it’s helpful to practice at any chance you get!
No matter your career plans, making meaningful connections with other professionals in the field will enhance your professional journey. If you’re beginning the transition from college to career, receiving guidance from someone well-established in your field may be the leg up that you need.
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