This post is sponsored by the Forté Foundation. All opinions are 100% my own!
Before I actually had mentors, I, like most people, believed a mentor to be like Cinderella's fairy godmother, but for your career. But the truth is that there are many different people in your life that may mentor you, even if you don’t have a formal mentoring relationship.
What Does it Mean to Have a Mentor?
A mentor is someone who gives you advice in your career that will benefit you in the long run. That means lots of people can count as your mentor: your sister, your mom, your boss. Let me tell you more specifically about some of the mentorship experiences I’ve had in my life.
The sister mentor
My first mentor was my older sister. She would give me advice on everything under the sun from managing my finances, to making the right career decisions, to the best ways to take care of my hair. Because she gave me advice on so many different topics, I never considered her to be a mentor. I thought that was what older sisters were supposed to do.
But after talking to my friends, I realized I was lucky. I had a smart older sister who was willing to tell me what she knew. And because of her, I learned that sometimes unsolicited advice is some of the best advice you can get. So I learned to be humble, listen, and seriously take what people tell me into consideration.
I truly believe that having this open mind to advice opens you up to more mentorship opportunities. So stay open and don’t roll your eyes when you get the advice you weren’t exactly asking for. Instead, listen for nuggets of information you could use.
The manager mentor
My next mentor came to me in the form of my manager. He would give me advice on how to be the most successful with a given project. But he would also tell me how my success with that project could influence my career. His big picture insight helped me realize that the projects I was working on we're building blocks towards something greater.
While I was eventually laid off from that position, I stayed in touch with my mentor. I actually started doing some freelance work for him over a year later. And he continued to give me great advice and introduced me to new opportunities for me to succeed in my career.
He is still a great mentor in my life even though I now have a new job with a new mentor. Different people have different areas of expertise that can help you to be your very best. At this point, I have multiple mentors I reach out to for different things. And I like it that way.
Where to Find Mentors
You’re probably wondering where you can find mentors who can help you succeed in your career. Here are my top four tips:
Apply to jobs with mentorship in mind
Ever since my positive mentorship experience with my first boss, have vowed only to take positions where I can get a mentor in the mix as well. I mention this in all of my job interviews. Because of this, in my last three positions, I have had managers who also mentored me.
Seek out mentors in the form of mastermind groups, coaches, and books
Sometimes finding a mentor means finding the resource they’ve produced to help people. Mastermind groups are a great way to get advice from multiple people at the same time. The same thing goes for coaches. Just because you pay them does not mean it's not mentoring. And books can also be a form of mentorship. Even though I don’t personally know Tony Shei, Tim Ferris, and Darren Hardy, I consider them mentors since I have read and LOVED their books, which were full of great of advice.
Find a mentorship program such as the MBA Launch Program
If you have a specific goal you want to accomplish, like going to graduate school, see if there’s a mentorship program out there designed to help you meet your goal. One that comes to mind is the MBA launch program by the Forté Foundation. I think this program is incredible because it matches accomplished businesswomen mentors with young women who are looking to get their MBA.
The Forté Foundation is an action-oriented non-profit, led and funded by a consortium of 120 top schools and multinational corporations that are passionate about advancing women in business. They support women throughout the MBA process and showcase the endless career options available in business. They also help women advance in business by providing workshops, networking, and inspirational role models.
So if you are brand new to this whole mentorship thing, it may be worthwhile to check them out first and see what they are all about. Finding a mentor can be intimidating at first, so I love that there’s a program that makes it easy for women who are trying to better themselves in their careers. If you want to learn more about the MBA launch program, you should check out their site at http://www.fortefoundation.org/
Having a better understanding of what a mentorship is, makes it easier to find mentors. And I hope this article helps you understand that mentors come in all shapes and sizes.