Venturing into a new career field can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. As a beginner, you might feel inexperienced and inadequate, despite the qualifications and years of experience in your previous field. However, this period of adjustment can be a lot easier if you invest some of your time into finding a mentor.
Finding a mentor can yield continued guidance, support, advice, and insight that will help you get ahead much quicker and save you hours on learning the ins and outs of your new career the hard way.
In this article, we’ll discuss what qualities should you look for in a mentor and where to find one.
Qualities to keep in mind when you’re finding a mentor
A mentor is someone who has the experience that you’re lacking and is willing to pass it on onto you. Unlike a consultant, they won’t charge you a fee for their mentoring. In fact, many relationships that started out as mentorships turn into friendships.
Your mentor should ideally be someone whose career you admire and who has similar personal and professional values as your own.
When you set out finding a mentor, there are a few key qualities you should look for.
- Find someone with a successful career in the field that you’re pursuing rather than someone who is just starting out. They, like you, won’t have the necessary experience to understand how the industry works nor can they advise you on how to move up in the ranks.
- Your mentor should be friendly, have the ability to listen, and have a positive attitude necessary to encourage you.
- Choose a mentor that has passion for their field/work that translates into desire to teach and help those who are just starting out.
- Look for someone who has availability for meetings on a regular basis. The last thing you want is a mentor who can never be around when you need guidance.
- Your mentor should treat you as an equal, provide you with the support when you need it but also challenge you to continue developing yourself as well as help you make tough decisions when you need to.
- Look for someone who has been mentored in the past because chances are they will have a better understanding of the value mentorship can provide.
7 places to find a mentor
Once you know what qualities to look for it’s time for finding a mentor. Here are a few places to start your search.
Online mentorship networks.
LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups.
Online communities and forums.
Ready to find your guru? Let’s go!
1. Your workplace
Your workplace is the most obvious place to start. Look for a senior employee that started out on the similar path as you and made their way up. Someone who was once in your position is the best person to give you advice on the inner workings of not only the career you’re pursuing but also the company you work for.
2. Online mentorship networks
By signing up for a mentoring network, you’ll be able to list your profile and browse a database of professionals who are interested in networking or mentoring the next generation.
You can search for professionals locally and meet with them face to face or you can decide to communicate via phone call, video call or email.
3. Networking events
Another great way to find mentors is to use Meetup or Eventbrite and find local networking opportunities in your career field. All you have to do is sign up for events that relevant to your chosen field, attend them, and make genuine connections with others in your industry.
4. LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups
Given that LinkedIn is meant to connect professionals, it’s only natural to use the network as well as its Groups feature to find potential mentors. In fact, 89 percent of seniors are interested in mentoring a young professional.
Remember to be active in a group and provide value, rather than jumping in and immediately asking for a mentor.
Get to know the members and connect with those who you think would be a good mentor. Then send them an invitation request and start to form a relationship.
5. Volunteer events
It’s not uncommon for those who are successful to spend their time volunteering. Consider using a network such as Volunteer Match to find volunteer opportunities in your area. Once you start attending on a regular basis, you'll be able to connect with other regulars, learn more about them, and expand your network from there.
6. Online communities and forums
Don’t ignore other online communities. Forums geared for career professionals or even Facebook groups or Twitter chats can be a great place to meet potential mentors. You can use the search function and use your industry’s keywords to find relevant groups and chats.
If you’re serious about finding a mentor though, be on the lookout for groups with fewer members that have a request to join policy.
Usually, they have less chances of being filled up with spammy posts and random members that have nothing to do with your field.
7. Your community
Finally, don’t forget to look around your community. Don’t forget that successful people still participate in regular day-to-day activities just like the rest of us. If your workplace or your local area has a gym, consider joining it and connect with the people there.
Take your career to the next level with a mentor
The best way to accelerate your career is finding a mentor who will not only encourage you but challenge you to grow both professionally and personally. Use the tips above for finding a mentor who will guide you towards success in your new career.