March 03, 2021 3 min read

With the right kind of mentorship, imagine the career trajectory you could experience knowing you have a pro to turn to for support, advice, and insight. A bright light on your career path especially during times of uncertainty where you might feel you’re walking blindly forward. Finding that mentor may seem impossible. So where do you start? We explore the benefits of mentorship including what to expect in your search and what the mentor and mentee relationship entails.

Mentorship Vs. Career Coach

Woman standing over woman at laptop providing help.

Don’t get us wrong: mentorship and coaching look the same on paper so it’s completely understandable to not know the difference. They both provide support for professional growth but it’s the tactics and focus that differ. Knowing this difference from the beginning will help you determine which route is best for you.

A mentor might be in the books if you’re looking for:

  • A professional to show you the ropes of a certain industry or company. They have experience in that field with hopefully many years of it, so they know it inside and out.
  • Someone to give you practical advice for work-related situations. You feel at a loss about what to do next with Becky in that email chain and are looking for ways to best handle it. A mentor walks in with their experience and a fresh perspective.
  • A genuine interest in your career path and provides guidance based on their lived experience. Since they work in your dream industry, they’re the perfect person to speak to about how to climb the ladder successfully.
  • A reciprocal relationship where you develop mutual trust and a willingness to learn from one another. A mentor might not have all the answers but they’re great at listening.

All of that sounds great and then some but before you run ahead, let us give you the details on a career coach:

  • A professional who is actively helping you achieve a specific goal such as a career change or improving on a specific skillset like interviewing.
  • They may not necessarily have the same work experience as you so their advice will align closely to your goal rather than the specifics of a role.
  • Their time is limited with you based on progress toward and completion of your goal. You can certainly stay connected on LinkedIn, but once they’ve done what they set out to do, it’s time for goodbyes.

Mentorship at the Workplace

Man on the phone smiling and looking at notebook.

If you are now convinced a mentorship is the right option for you, where do you look? When you hear of great mentorship stories like Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey, they seem to include a dash of magic along with right time, right place. Your mentorship relationship will ebb and flow throughout your career and depends on your commitment. Reaching out to someone at your current workplace is the most common approach. When you’re new to your role, the company may even set you up with a mentor who will explain how the business works, which teams do what and how your work connects to it all.

When looking outside the workspace, then there’s a whole online world to consider and LinkedIn is built for exactly that. As you build your network, you’ll find you are slowly but surely connecting to a wider net of contacts and professionals.

Exploring Mentorship Programs

Want something a bit more concrete in terms of mentorship? An experience that is guaranteed to help you manage introductions, touchpoints and then some? Then a mentorship program could provide exactly that as they’re designed to not only pair you with a professional outside your industry, but also have a clear objective in place.

Research which mentorship programs are available to you within your area and what criteria is required of you. Some are geared towards students while others focus on young professionals just starting their careers. Setup a Google alert, ask your networks and actively search from time to time. You never know what's out there until you try!

Expanding your own Mentoring Skills

We know it’s too soon to think bigger picture as you navigate finding a mentor, but keep in mind that once you do that’s not where the experience ends. As you progress throughout your career, picking up industry know how and skills to match, you’ll soon find yourself in the position where someone’s reaching out to you. Why not see if mentoring is something you could add to your already impressive repertoire? You might learn something yourself as you continue the mentorship cycle.

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