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The value of having a mentor can be useful tool to anyone. Whether you’re new in the game or half way up the career ladder, having someone there who can guide you and offer advice is tantamount in helping to challenge you, offer direction and shape your way of thinking. But, knowing the value of having a mentor is one thing but how exactly can you take full advantage of your mentor?
In order to get what you can out of your mentor, schedule in a regular meeting. We aren’t necessarily talking a full hour; it can be informal and relaxed. Most importantly, however, is being prepared for that meeting. Go with some goals you want to set yourself, be open to your mentor giving you goals and objectives, brainstorm ideas (some might be brilliant, other not so much) and generally discuss the direction you’re going in. Soon this weekly (or monthly, some mentors are very busy) meeting will be less a meeting and more of a catch up to see how well you’re progressing and how to help you progress further.
Of course, we aren’t talking intricate details of your mentor’s agenda or to do list but ask for an overall idea of what they’re working on in any given week so that you can find an opportunity to learn something. Say for example your mentor is going creating a strategy or is drafting up a presentation, ask if there’s anything you can help on. Whether it’s a little research or suggesting a new angle to pitch from, your relationship with your mentor should be a two-way road.
Having a mentor can definitely help you in areas where there may be holes in your knowledge. But be mindful that not every mentor can help you in the ways you might need. They don’t know everything and you shouldn’t expect them to. Seek out the relevant people who can help you, sometimes having more than one mentor can go a long way. Managing expectations can avoid future frustrations.
Your mentor is there to help shape you and your career path into something beautiful and productive (and hopefully successful). Pick up on the habits from them that work. Understand that mentors aren’t perfect and they have bad habits too. Try to be as good as your mentor but not the same; your industry or business isn’t looking for a copy. Bring new ideas to the table, fresh perspectives.
Mentors guide, they nurture and nourish. But it isn’t forever. Eventually, it is time to flea the nest. There will be a time when you no longer need to learn from your mentor. And that is okay. They will always be there for you just like a parent. But soon a time will come when the mentee becomes the mentor.