If you’ve had the good fortune of finding a great mentor, you know that having the right mentor can make a huge difference to your entire career. And the many benefits of being mentored apply both within a company, as well as when you’re looking to move between companies.
But there’s one more way that mentoring can help you – namely when YOU become a mentor to others. Surprised? Here are some reasons you might want to at least consider becoming a mentor. But first…
What is a mentor?
A mentor is someone you trust to help you with your career decisions, education, or other life choices. They are there to listen, teach, counsel, coach, offer specific kinds of advice, and provide information about (or even assistance with) things that will help you learn and grow.
They act as role models, and also can help introduce you to new connections in the company or industry to help you advance your career. Occasionally they may even advocate directly for your advancement, or help you negotiate some tricky career politics.
5 reasons you may want to become a mentor
- If you’ve ever felt a bit insecure about how much you know, despite your experience, you’ll begin to see yourself at a higher level. You’re no longer just a “little feller” in your own mind. It may help you feel more comfortable when trying for new projects / roles you want to take on – or even perhaps when asking for a raise.
- You get to view your own career and career path from a different perspective. A little like the scene in the film Dead Poet’s Society, where the teacher asks his students to get up on the desk. You hear what your mentee is thinking about, and how they view things. This can open up new thoughts for you and for your own career.
- The person you mentor becomes a potential lifelong connection. Levels and connections shift and grow throughout our career. It’s great to have allies who think highly of you.
- Others you work with may start to see you differently when you mentor people. Not only when they see the person valuing your advice, but also in response to how you begin to see yourself.
- It feels really good to mentor others. And to see how you’ve helped improve things for the person you’re helping. Giving to others is one of the best things we can do for our own self-esteem, which in turn is great for helping us navigate our own careers.
A few more thoughts about mentoring
I add this as a big caution: Mentoring is NOT about being a know-it-all. No one has all the answers. In fact, the smartest people know that they don’t know everything. And if something new does come up, it’s a great chance for the two of you to expand your knowledge together.
Your main job as a mentor is simply to be there for the other person when they have questions, feel lost, or just need some advice. And, based on what you yourself have been through, you can even help them figure out what it is they need to ask that they couldn’t yet come up with on their own!
Depending on your level, I hope you’ll at least consider becoming a mentor to someone starting out where you work or in your industry. Or you can become a mentor to someone still in school, maybe as part of a non-profit program. It’s a gift that keeps giving to both of you!
Please feel free to share any mentoring stories you have!