Why You Need a Mentor
Yoda and Luke Skywalker. Mr Miyagi and the Karate Kid. Charles Xavier and the X Men. Uncle Ben and Spiderman. Haymitch and Katniss Everdeen. Rafiki and Simba. Dumbledore and Harry Potter.
Mentors are worth their weight in HDs. They are the people who will give you advice, open up opportunities, support your dreams and celebrate your success. Still not convinced that you need one? That’s okay. Here’s a list to help you out:
1. Success is for mentees
Studies show that you’re more likely to succeed if you have a mentor. Sun Microsystems found that employees who received mentoring were promoted FIVE times more often than people who didn’t have mentors. Why? Mentors have experience and skills that you don’t. They are the people several steps higher than you on the career ladder. By learning from them, you gain some of their knowledge and insight as well as a competitive edge over your peers.
2. Connecting the dots
As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Mentors connect you with the people who can influence your career. A great mentor will have a large network to tap into. A writing mentor could connect you to publishers, a lawyer to a senior partner of your dream firm, a doctor to a specialist, an artist to a gallery curator, and so on. Even if your mentor doesn’t recommend or introduce you directly, name dropping is the road to success.
3. Need to know
Every industry comes with hidden skills and knowledge that you can’t get through study, books or the internet. Sometimes it takes a mentor to tell you: Person A only conducts meetings in the mornings, you need to work until 7pm if you want that promotion, Company B only advertises jobs through their enewsletter.
4. A friendly ear
A good mentor is someone who has been where you are. They have the career you want, or something similar. So when you’re struggling — you hit a setback or are feeling down — they will be able to understand even if you don’t need advice. Sometimes all you need is a bit of encouragement to keep going. A good mentor will be your professional cheer squad.
So, after all that, where can you find a mentor? Look around at the uni, in your field or in the workplace. If there is someone you think would be a good mentor, just approach them! Have a chat or send them an email. You don’t need to ask them to be your mentor outright. Try meeting them over coffee or a Skype call for an informal chat.
If you aren’t confident enough to approach someone — or you don’t know anyone that is appropriate — try a mentor program. The Flinders Careers and Employer Liaison Centre has several:
Flinders Ignite Mentoring: This program connects you with alumni and other professionals through a range of mentoring opportunities. It is run online and offers a range of options, from a CV check to a six month mentoring experience.
Career Connect: These two hour sessions involve a mentor panel presentation, small group mentoring, and a networking session.
Contact the Centre at (08) 8201 2832 or firstname.lastname@example.org.