How to Get a Mentor
By Kate Boeckenstedt, AgCareers.com Marketing Intern
According to Dictionary.com, a mentor is a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. A mentor is someone you turn to in times when you might need advice or guidance. Oftentimes a mentor is found in a school or work environment but not always. You might have a mentor and not even be conscious of it. People frequently have several mentors throughout their life. However, if you feel that you do not have a mentor and are in search of one then this article is for you!
When you are looking for a mentor there are several things you should consider. A mentor should be someone who shares similar values or beliefs, someone who takes time for you, and someone who is going to support you. There is a difference between looking up to someone and that someone actually mentoring you. Oftentimes people admire an elder but that elder does not necessarily guide the individual.
To start looking for a mentor with similar beliefs and values you can evaluate people from work, school, religious groups, fitness classes, organizations, or through family and friends. Another great way to interact with people is to volunteer in a place of interest. Frequently there will be retirees out volunteering that would be willing to share their wealth of knowledge and life advice. People may even refer you to someone who shares a similar passion and connecting with that certain person will help generate a new relationship. Observe people around you and look for qualities they have that are important to you.
There is nothing wrong with having a mentor that has a tight time schedule. However, it is difficult to plan a last-minute lunch to catch up or seek advice when they have very little free time to spare for you. You might think that a CEO would have the most valuable advice but that is not always the case. Sometimes it is more valuable to find someone with spare time to give you guidance whenever you might be in need.
Find a mentor who is going to be supportive of you. Although you should turn to them for honest advice, your mentor should not be a negative factor towards your actions. A mentor should always give you positive tips and guidance, even if they do not agree with your life choices. However, do not be afraid to take constructive criticism. There are positive ways for someone to suggest helpful improvements, especially in a work environment. If you are looking to pursue a mentorship with someone who disagrees with your life choices then perhaps consider a different person.
A mentorship should happen naturally and should not be a forced relationship. Ensure that the mentor agrees to advise you. If you are having a difficult time making that connection, try being a mentor to someone yourself. Often the best things come unexpectedly. Lending advice to someone else will demonstrate your generosity to other leaders and they may take interest in mentoring you.
A mentorship can be a wonderful thing when you seek guidance from someone beyond a family member or friend. The relationship can be as professional or as friendly as you and your mentor agree upon. Try to meet with your mentor regularly and establish personal and professional goals to accomplish. Follow up on the progression of each goal every time you get together.
To learn more about functional mentorship, check out this AgCareers.com Career Cultivation blog.