Mentorship is a concept that is talked about prolifically in publications such as Forbes, Inc., and Business Insider. If you search the phrase “mentorship” on Inc.’s website, you’ll receive almost 500 hits. It’s great to have a mentor when you are starting up your own business but mentorship is useful even if you aren’t an entrepreneur, executive or other senior professional. In fact, you can gain value from mentorship at any stage in your life, but here at GenTwenty we think your twenties are a particularly critical time to develop a strong relationship with a mentor.
Here’s why we think having a mentor is a brilliant idea:
1. They help you walk a path.
If you have a good mentor, they will always be willing to share their knowledge and pull from their own experiences to help you succeed. Usually, your mentor should be someone who is where you would like to be or has had similar experiences in their past.
A mentorship is to help you move forward or even pivot with the goals you have set. Mentors can give advice about a variety of career elements. These include setting and achieving career goals, making business decisions, overcoming workplace challenges, learning new skills and/or offer a wise and knowledgeable perspective on frustrations you are facing at work.
As your mentorship develops, the relationship can develop from trusted confidante in career matters to a sounding board for matters beyond. A mentorship should be a mutually beneficial relationship if both parties set goals and have an understanding of what they would like to achieve.
2. They tell it like it is.
Often, your mentor will be someone who is outside your close circle of friends and family. On occasion, they will be part of your organization and other times they will be outside of it. Since your mentor isn’t embedded in your day-to-day, they can provide information candidly and with less bias. In being frank and open, they will be able to provide information and perspectives you may not have thought of.
Carine Umuhumuza, Associate Director Communications at Devex, says that when you’re searching for a mentor,
“Not to focus on the mentors who have the “dream job” but those who align with how you want to conduct yourself and have a work ethic you admire. Mentors who think differently than you but “add value” and challenge your whole person, and in turn, your professional life.”
3. They help you see yourself like never before.
There are certain qualities and personalities you may think have a higher value placed on them. Your mentor will not see your issues as you do and will often have a completely different perspective.
For Janice Holzman, Director of Development at Global Kids, her mentor’s perception was life-changing:
“The best advice I ever received from a mentor was that sensitivity is a strength, not a weakness–it was a total game-changer for me as that idea had not occurred to me prior to that moment!”
The beauty of a mentor is having someone external approach what you see as problems with a new outlook.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”The best advice I ever received from a mentor was that sensitivity is a strength, not a weakness–it was a total game-changer for me as that idea had not occurred to me prior to that moment!” – Janice Holzman” quote=”The best advice I ever received from a mentor was that sensitivity is a strength, not a weakness–it was a total game-changer for me as that idea had not occurred to me prior to that moment!” – Janice Holzman”]
4. They’ll connect you.
Although the point of a mentor isn’t to squeeze them for connections, a bonus side effect of a positive, well-developed mentorship can be the chance to tap into your mentor’s network.
When you have built a good relationship, your mentor might start introducing you to other people they think can help with your goals, direction or business. Ideally, you shouldn’t begin a mentorship with the explicit goal of using your mentor for their connections. If you reach a point, where you both feel comfortable with each other, find a natural moment to ask if they would be willing to introduce you to someone in their network. Networking is one of the best ways to grow your career and they will appreciate your initiative.
5. They boost your mood.
This may be a self-serving reason, but having a mentor can boost your mood. The American Psychological Association considers this part of the cultivation stage of mentorship, which “emerges after the mentor and mentee have established an interpersonal bond. Within this function, the mentor accepts and confirms the mentee’s professional identity and the relationship matures into a strong friendship.”
When you are struggling, having someone who you can talk through those problems or concerns with, can help lift and lighten your spirits. Your mentor believes in you and encourages you in a way that nobody else does, that has an immediate positive impact whether that’s long term or short term.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”When your mentor believes in you and encourages you in a way that nobody else does, that has an immediate positive impact whether that’s long term or short term.” quote=”When your mentor believes in you and encourages you in a way that nobody else does, that has an immediate positive impact whether that’s long term or short term.”]
Mentorship is such a critical element of growth and development. In order to get the most from your relationship, Carine recommends, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s better to ask all the “dumb” questions early than to fumble around and not have directions on how to do your tasks later on. And outwork everyone.”
A significant aspect of your twenties is figuring yourself out and setting a foundation for your future whether or not that includes a career, a family or whatever else you may choose for yourself. Family and friends are critical to helping you navigate your twenties but so is a mentor.
For those moments when you need someone to help you constructively judge your options and choices, celebrate wins big and small, and show you how to know better and do better, get yourself a mentor.