The Importance of a Good Mentor
By Emma Jones
Never underestimate the power of experience. In a professional environment I like to think of myself as the most absorbent sponge on the market. Odd I know, but whoever I am surrounded by in the corporate world I try to absorb as much information and knowledge from them as I can. They don’t realise it but they are mentoring me.
Firstly, what is a Mentor? The Oxford dictionary describes a Mentor as an ‘experienced and trusted adviser’. Broadening from this, normally a Mentor should have already done what you are trying to achieve (to some extent). They are able to share their in depth knowledge and experiences with you, provide support and advice when you need it but encourage you to make professional decisions.
For me, it’s been a little different. I had a few false starts in regards to the direction I wanted to take with my career. However, I have had access to a great mentor throughout my younger years; my Father. He is a rational man. Much like my current professional Mentor. I think this is why we get along so well.
So, what are some of the benefits?
Knowledge and Experience
I tend to refer to my current mentor as an encyclopaedia of knowledge. Whatever question I have thrown his way he has been able to answer. His answers are usually accompanied by a great story or experience that links with his answer to my question. I enjoy this part a lot. People learn and retain information differently. Figure out what works best with you and your mentor.
Sometimes the outcome of a project may work out differently to what I have expected, or my naivety shows in contrast with my mentor’s time in the profession. He supports me, offers constructive criticisms and provides me with rational and detailed explanations to any ‘dramas’ I may be dealing with.
The opportunity to be taken along to client meetings, industry forums and other professional events allows you to connect and network with other experienced individuals. Not only do they serve as new and valuable additions to your absorbent sponge-self, it can be beneficial for your career when you expand the network of people you know in the industry.
Helps you to realize your potential
My main weakness is self-doubt. A mentor should believe in you, reassure and encourage you. A Mentor can also assist you in discovering your strengths but also weaknesses that you do not recognise yourself. It all contributes to your professional growth.
My mentor, who is also my Boss has all of these traits. I know that he wants to see me succeed. Not to mention he decided to employ and take a chance on an eager Graduate. One thing I value the most, is the simplicity of the relationship. I never hesitate to pick up the phone when I have a question and my Mentor makes every effort to respond. Having a mentor and being a mentee shouldn’t be hard work.
I had the opportunity to Mentor first year students in University when I was completing my final year and it was incredibly rewarding. I consider it very important for organisations to have a strong mentoring culture. It has helped and will continue to help me in years to come.
Be proactive and find yourself a Mentor. Someone who you get along with, encourages you to think on your own, but offers you advice when you need it. As a Graduate, the amount I have learned from my Mentor in 2 years is invaluable. After reading this, you may have realised that you already have one.
And finally, be a sponge. Trust me it’s worth it. Your career will thank you later.