A few years ago, I didn’t think mentorship was of importance. Today, I can attest to how important having a mentor is as I’ve gained immensely from it and can tell you that it’s a lifesaver. Is there one way to find a mentor? The answer is no.
At every stage in our lives we look out for direction, most usually from those who have had similar experiences in that path – a mentor. Whether it’s an official or unofficial arrangement is a different discussion. What’s most important is deriving the benefits that come from mentorship.
My world of mentorship all started the day I decided to join a friend for a networking event. At first, I was skeptical about going for the event but summoned up courage as I wanted to mingle a bit.
Before the event, I opened my LinkedIn app and searched for some of the speakers who were going to be in attendance. Two of these speakers profile sparked my interest as both were in the industry I was interested in at the time. I sent a connection request and a short message introducing myself.
Of course, I attended the event and had the opportunity to mix up with a number of professionals. After the event, I followed up with one of the speakers who I had sent a connection and introduced myself with a handshake.
“Your handshake is weak!” that was the first thing she said.
Before then, I had never really seen that as a big deal but she quickly told me to shake her again and it felt more powerful this time around.
I would later go ahead to read on power tactics, body language and how important it is in business. We chatted for a while and I asked her a few questions about the industry, told her that I had sent her a LinkedIn connection which she promised to accept and thanked her for her time.
After that event, I kept in touch with her and scheduled a quick phone conversation with her. During our conversations, I opened up about my career and plans and she offered her advice and reviewed my resume. I noticed a number of things I hadn’t taken into consideration and worked on it.
Should you have only one mentor?
No, I don’t have regular meetings with her. No, we didn’t create a formal relationship where I call her my mentor because she is busy and has responsibilities. However, the few minutes of the time she spent with me really put things in perspective for me and helped me align my thoughts all together. I began to realize how important it was to have a mentor or at least feign having a mentor.
Eventually, I sought other ways of building mentors. Sometimes having a one day mentor. Those little nuggets people drop in casual conversations have a way of changing your narrative if you keep an open mind.
This article isn’t exclusive to being an immigrant, however, even as one, it can be quite challenging as you are in a new environment with strangers around you. Sometimes, you feel like a stranger to yourself as you have moved life. How do you make the connection to have a mentor? How do you ask the right questions? Where do you even find a mentor?
You see, as an immigrant, you are practically starting life afresh in a different culture and if you want to get into the workforce, you can bet that it’s not the same with your home country.
When considering how important mentorship can be, I believe one should focus on two types of mentorship― Professional and Personal mentorship.
You need direction professionally in the sense that you are able to see that you can succeed in your chosen career and to avoid feeling isolated, you equally need a mentor (s) to share life experiences with you.
The last thing you need as a worker is: negativity.
When things might seem challenging, you really need that motivation to keep going until you reach that height where you feel much more comfortable in your own skin. I see that mentorship does this for you in a way that can be hard to explain. However, in a few points, I’ll share with you some benefits you stand to gain from mentorship whether you choose to do so formally or informally.
1. Your mentor will show you the way
Whoever ends up mentoring you in one way or the other is someone who is hardworking and has some more experience. This person will have a way to show you things you’ve never even taken into consideration.
It’s the latest trend that technology is taking over employment, however, if career direction is something that interests you, your mentor can show you how to stay relevant, after all, this is how they are able to do so in their own career.
Rather than making the same mistakes they’ve made, you get to your plan much faster since they’ve been through a similar experience.
2. You feel happier
There is nothing as good as feeling fulfilled with what you do and once you get to this stage, you feel happier. It has a way of affecting your personal life too.
Life can get quite challenging and just knowing that you have someone to turn to for a few words of encouragement, and of course, a quick snap to reality and following your path is something delightful.
3. You’ll keep learning
Learning every day is the only way to grow in life as everything keeps changing. With a mentor, you are able to learn how to progress in your career, create a plan/ path, increase your earnings as you are able to negotiate better, and so much more. With being a professional, it takes a whole lot of development and strategy.
Something I quickly realized upon joining the workforce in Canada is the fact that culture fit plays a huge role in gaining employment. Some companies go as far as having a separate interview session to access how well you’ll blend in with other employees. Cultural fit goes beyond your personality but actually has a lot to do with learning how to work as a team player.
If you are not used to this from your home country if, for instance, you are an immigrant, it can be very difficult for you to fit in. This is something that your mentor can advise you on when joining the workforce.
4. You know the mistakes to avoid
This is just plain explanatory. A mentor is that person who is willing to tell you this: “Hey, I don’t think you should try that, why not do this instead? I did this and it didn’t work out.”
I think we all need this type of person in our lives. Do you agree?
There are a lot of other ways mentorship can be beneficial but I’ll stop here. If you are still not convinced I’m sure there are several other online resources you can review. However, in my next two articles, I’ll be sharing how to find a mentor and how to develop a relationship with one.
Do you have a mentor or are you considering it?