Whether you have a job you love or don't love, there's plenty of reasons to get a mentor. Even though you may think you do not need one, at some point, it'll definitely be beneficial to have your very own cheering section — to encourage you when things are going well and also when things are not going so well. Plus, there are all kinds of mentors out there — you may want one who's in the same field you're in, i.e., marketing, but you may want another one who pursues the same passion you do, i.e., music. The reality is, you cannot have too many.
I know, you may be wondering how to find a mentor (or mentors). It's actually not as difficult as you may think. If you're a writer, you can send an email to a writer you admire and ask them to be your mentor — after telling them why you admire their work and why/how you'd benefit from their mentoring, of course. Or perhaps you already know your future mentor, but haven't made things official yet, i.e., you haven't asked them to be your mentor yet. Of course, you wouldn't ask a finance expert to be your mentor if you're an artist and in need of a fellow artist to mentor you. Plus, you don't want to randomly contact someone and say, "Hey, I need a mentor. Can you be mine?"
Kali Rogers, Founder of Blush Online Life Coaching, feels that being asked to be a mentor can be an honor for the mentor. "That means not only do you admire the life path that they chose, but you trust them enough to actually take their advice," Rogers tells Bustle. "Most of us don't feel super influential in our daily lives, so this is a great chance for them to make an impact. People enjoy helping others more than you realize. So reach out to people who have similar interests as you and see if they'd be interested in helping you carve out your own path!"
Here are seven legit reasons you can benefit from having a mentor.
They Help Educate You
Chances are, your mentor's been exactly where you are right now. Perhaps they're now a high-level marketing executive, i.e., what you aspire to be. They made plenty of mistakes along the way, which you naturally hear about as you two meet for coffee, lunch, or through a FaceTime chat. Yes, it's important to have regular check-ins with your mentor, by the way — and not just when you need something. Overall, it's good to stay in regular contact, whatever you two decide "regular" is — once a week, twice a month, or what have you. Of course, there will probably be times you communicate outside of the allotted times — i.e., when you need mentoring about a certain situation. So whether you're getting advice during a casual coffee or a last-minute get-together, their input is invaluable and they'll inevitably share their experiences with you so that you can prevent making some of the mistakes they've made in the past.
Christie Lindor, a 16-year veteran in management consulting who has the mission "to be the mentor I wish I had," with a hit pop-up podcast, The MECE Muse Unplugged, has great advice about interacting with your mentor. "Make sure each interaction is purposeful and meaningful for both parties," Lindor tells Bustle. "Some of my best mentors are busy people with 10 minutes to spare within a six month period. Have crisp 'elevator pitch"-type updates, share something of value, and stay connected the way they like to interact. Own your experience by tailoring guidance from mentors to meet your needs. Treat every mentor conversation as a learning moment, not as an opportunity to get answers. Mentors should guide, but not steal, the process of your journey."
You Have Someone To Talk To Outside Of The Office
Like a therapist, mentors tend to be unbiased. Sure, you can ask family and friends what to do about a certain work situation, but a person who's been in your shoes before, aka your mentor, probably knows best. Even if they have not had your exact job before, chances are, they know the office dynamic and can let you know what to do — i.e., leave the verbally abusive boss you have; encourage you not to quit but ask to switch departments instead; find a new job in a new office; and so on. Their only agenda is to help you achieve your goals — they'll tell it to you straight: do do this, don't do that, and this will happen if you do this/don't do that — which everyone needs to hear sometimes.
They Give You Free Advice
Running with the therapist analogy, therapy is usually not cheap. However, having a mentor is! Usually, it's free. But if you think about it, aside from the other reasons you should have a mentor, the free one is a no-brainer. All it'll cost you is time, and maybe a few cups of coffee, and for their wealth of experience, the benefits will far outweigh the price of those coffees!
They Help You Focus
Let's say you've been having too many bad days lately — yep, it's time for a career change. Who will help you figure out what to do and where to go next? Your mentor, of course. Perhaps you're an artist and have been working as the personal assistant to a high-profile artist. But with all the hours you work, you have little time left to create your own art. Plus, the boss isn't exactly the nicest. You know you have to quit, but then what? Your mentor will likely have great ideas and advice for you — to find a more calm work environment, and one that allows you enough time and energy for your personal projects after work. Whatever the case may be, they will help you look at your situation from new perspectives, many of which didn't cross your mind before.
It's Always Great To Get A Second, More Experienced Opinion
Mentors have more of one key thing you don't: experience. So it's a given that they're the perfect person for you to confide in and seek advice from to get that second opinion. You may think you don't need career advice, especially if everything seems to be going well at your workplace, but you'd be surprised at what new ideas a mentor can offer. For example, perhaps you've been at your personal assistant job for a year, but the mention of a raise hasn't come up. Now's the time. Perhaps you're fine waiting it out, i.e., not bringing it up, but that's where your mentor comes along and helps you figure out how to get a raise. In essence, with this example and countless others, mentors help the impossible become possible.
However, you can also get a third and fourth opinion. Lindor believes in having more than one mentor, and I agree. "Seek out as many mentoring relationships as possible," Lindor tells Bustle. "Do not put your eggs in one basket when it comes to mentors. I sometimes ask the same question to different mentors to get a well-rounded, 360 perspective on a situation."
They're There, No Matter What
You know how you may feel bad going to the same friends again and again for advice? And perhaps one doesn't text or call you back right away anymore, so you think you must be contacting her too much, so then you get paranoid… Well, your mentor will be there for you. I'm not saying to contact them in the middle of the night or to be like Bill Murray's character in What About Bob? where he crosses boundaries with his therapist, but a good mentor will likely not ignore you. If they're busy, they may say they need "x" amount of time to get back to you, but they will get back to you, no questions asked.
OK, now that you know why you have to have a mentor, now's the time to go find one. "I suggest creating a short list of people that have already achieved what you hope to and start adding value to them," Kavita Sahai, leading online Coachultant (Coach + Consultant) and Founder of HaveBigPlans.com, tells Bustle. "Send them relevant articles and comment on and share their posts. Make an effort to meet them a couple of times, and always follow up with a hand-written note. Usually, mentors will make time for people they feel have made a real effort and are adding value to them, even if in a small way."
So there you have it — why you need a mentor and a bonus tip on how to find one. There are only benefits to having a mentor, not minuses, so what are you waiting for?