Mentorship is one of the best foundational components to building a great career, and one of the most common pieces of career advice that’s given is to “find a mentor.”
Finding a mentor, an experienced professional that you can learn from and who will help guide you through the trials and tribulations in your career path, is something that is highly desired but can often prove difficult to find when want one in your career.
Traditionally, a mentor/mentee relationship is seen as one where there is frequent interaction, contact and guidance, possibly through meetings, check-ins and other regular communication. A mentor can answer questions, provide insight, and serve as an example to look up to as you move through your career.
Establishing a dedicated relationship with a mentor that is willing to invest in your success and devote the time, energy and interest in your professional development is sometimes not always as easy to find as you may like it to be.
Fortunately, a mentor can come in many forms, and the benefits of mentorship can come from a variety of sources beyond just direct interaction and formal relationships. If you are stuck on how or where to find a mentor, try one of these alternate approaches:
Find a famous mentor
Mentorship doesn’t need come from someone you know personally, or have ever even met. If you’re looking to find guidance and inspiration from someone who has overcome the professional challenges you are experiencing, then look to notable and famous leaders in your field of interest. Musicians, artists, writers, teachers and other professionals can all name past influencers in their field as mentors. You can find mentorship from an artist's’ work that inspires you, an enlightening TEDtalk, a blog you read regularly, or an autobiography of a thought leader. Find individuals you aspire to emulate and learn from them by learning about them.
Instead of focusing on finding one or two dedicated individuals who can serve as a mentor, try building a “cluster” of mentors that may only serve a brief, but lasting purpose. Start by identifying a number of professionals within a similar field or job position, and reach out to them for an informational interview. Even if you only have a few encounters, notice the common themes and tie them together to discover professional insight and mentorship. From a variety of perspectives you will gain a more diverse picture of the challenges and opportunities ahead of you, and can choose a more informed path well suited to your personal goals.
Look for the "Next Door Mentor"
A great mentor is simply someone you trust and can give you honest feedback to guide you along your path. Mentors aren’t always professionals in your chosen career field, and are often people already close by that you may not have recognized as a mentor. Look to your friends, family, teachers, friends of friends, and people that reflect your personal vision and definition of success. However, keep in mind that family and friends might not always have the most unbiased advice, so it’s best to rely on their mentorship and guidance more discerningly.
At any moment in your career, a mentor can provide invaluable guidance, support and advice to bring you to the next level in your career. When you feel stuck on how or where to find a mentor, remember to look around and discover that mentorship can be found closer than you think.