Finding a Mentor and How to be One
What is a Mentor?
According to Business News Daily, “Mentorship is a mutually beneficial professional relationship in which an experienced individual (the mentor) imparts knowledge, expertise and wisdom to a less experienced person (the mentee) while simultaneously honing their mentoring skills.” Mentors can appear in all areas of life, whether that’d be in your career, your health, and more!
Finding the One
Like with all special connections, searching for the right mentor means preparing yourself first. NPR says you need to get specific with your goals and that “One strategy to create effective, easily-achievable goals is to work SMART, meaning your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.” In what area of your life would a mentor be most beneficial? How can you integrate SMART goals to help you succeed in finding the perfect mentor?
Take a step back and look atf any potential people that may offer you substantial advice in your chosen area of life. Pinpoint who in your professional network would offer some guidance. What if you don’t have any potential mentors? Try utilizing platforms like LinkedIn, where you can search relevant keywords and see the “degree of your connections” between yourself and potential mentors. Aside from finding mentors online, there are so many more people who are able to help you than you might think. Ever had a favorite teacher? You can look to current and past teachers for a mentorship relationship. Let’s assume you need a real estate coach and if you hadn’t started chatting with this teacher, you might have never learned there a realtor, too, and could provide advice.
Embodying a Mentor
Siblings are a fine example of how a regular person can embody a mentor. A sibling can hand out their knowledge, connect with you on a deeper level, and actively communicate with you. To become a mentor to your sibling, start by creating a plan in which you lay out their SMART goals and ways you can help them achieve those goals. Take responsibility in the relationship, but not to the point where the mentee cannot learn on their own. Create monthly meeting dates where you can celebrate their big and small wins. Fostering a trusting relationship means you're constantly looking out for each other. Lastly, be confident in your expertise. Nothing can motivate like a confident mentor strutting their stuff!
Great Qualities All Around
Vulnerability is a quality that is not mentioned enough! In a Ted Talk by Brene Brown, she mentions that “the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging.” Simple, right? Well, it's important to be open and honest with yourself that you either deserve someone guiding you or that you’re confident in guiding someone. Affirmations like “I am worthy” embody the idea that nobody in the world should be excluded from partaking in mentorship opportunities.
Active listening goes both ways in a mentorship relationship. Both people should be involved in the conversation, prompting each other for clarity or more information. Immediately after a person states a position in a conversation, another should follow by asking questions or validating their experience.
Enthusiasm plays a vital role. If you are not excited to be engaged with the other person, it will be hard for them to tell to what extent you can help each other. Being enthusiastic shows genuine interest and that their time spent with you is positively worth it.
At Collegiate Women in Business, we have our own mentorship program where a mentee gets paired with a mentor in the same academic field of business. Usually in a about two to four mentor to mentee ratio, the group gets paired with a couple of alumni that graduated in the same major as them. Aside from the professional network, the program allows mentorship groups to make group plans to do a study sesh at the library or attend friendly events like going to Sinkland Farms! You can join by attending any CWIB event and asking the leadership team about more information.
#REAL WORLD STUFF
Virginia Tech offers a free Hokies First Peer Mentoring Program, where students who identify as first-generation leaders are able to find guidance. The program provides practical advice, connections to off-campus resources, helps you make empowered decisions, increases your social confidence, and more.
Becoming a Peer Mentor at VT can also allow you to aid undergraduate students in their transition from high school and act as an advocate agent. Personally, in my freshman experience courses, I got paired with a peer mentor who gave me tremendous advice and support when I expressed interest in the program!
The Mentorship Begins
In conclusion, take a small step forward and find how mentorship can improve your life. You may not know all of the answers now, but the best first step is simply to begin.
By Izzy McIlvenna