Behind nearly every successful person is a mentor who helped them navigate their path to success. Sean “Diddy” Combs credits Andre Harrell; Oprah Winfrey pays homage to Maya Angelou; and recently we interviewed Ruth E. Carter, the costume designer behind some of the most iconic black films, who calls Spike Lee her mentor. So if you’re ready to level up in your career, it’s time for you to put together a career squad—a group of individuals from different backgrounds who can support your growth and development.
Are you thinking about mentorship all wrong?
First, let’s clear up a few things that many people get wrong about mentorship. Mentorship is a two-way street. As a mentee, be prepared to ask questions about your mentor, accept constructive criticism and alternative ways of thinking, but also look for opportunities to encourage and support your mentor. For instance, on occasion, email your mentor articles that could be helpful or insightful for their career or business needs.
Second, regardless of what stage you are at in your career or your role within a company, everyone needs a mentor, but one mentor just isn’t enough.
Third, your mentor does not have to work in your field nor do they need to be older than you. Mentorship is about the person and their experiences, not their role or position within a company. A diverse group of mentors can meet different developmental needs in your career. You can consider someone who’s two steps ahead of you as well as someone who’s more seasoned in their career. Additionally, some mentors can help you reduce work-family conflict.
Finding a mentor is not an easy task.
Finding a mentor is all about putting yourself in a position to meet new people and letting the relationship evolve organically. But take note, sometimes instead of searching for a mentor, you can create an opportunity for your mentor to find you through launching new projects, starting your own initiative or simply being proactive at work.
You can also find mentorship in a podcast, YouTube show, or career development membership platform. This way you can study a few people you admire and engage with them regularly before making the “ask” of an official mentorship relationship.