Asking for help is something that can be very difficult to do. We feel like a burden, we feel like a failure, we don’t feel smart enough, etc.; many negative feelings come up when it comes to asking for help. So, how do we know who to ask? How do we know who is going to have the best interests for our future? Personal and professional development is important for everyone to achieve, and this goal can be met with the help of others. A mentor can professionally help the mentee by tailoring their mentorship style to meet the needs of the mentee and even become a friendly and supportive person.
I have had two different approaches with the mentors I was assigned to during my freshman year of college. My first mentor was not helpful at all and even discouraged my future plans after I told her that I wanted to get into dentistry but hated math classes. She told me I was not going to be a good student, and that I would probably fail since I hated math. After that conversation, I completely changed my plans and told my parents I was not going to school for dentistry anymore. They were furious, and I was confused and scared about my future. I ended up graduating in Communications with a concentration in Media. Five years later, I still think about that conversation. How can an advisor give such horrible advice, instead of encouraging me and guiding me with resources that would have eventually helped me?
Once I finally decided what my degree was going to be, I was assigned to a different mentor. My new advisor provided me guidance on everything I was doing and answered all the questions I had. She helped me organize my transcript and select the classes I needed to take first, what teachers I would connect best with, everything you can think of. Whenever I wanted to add a new minor or an internship, she would always research it for me and helped me beyond what was requested. I am so grateful that she got to be my mentor.
I think after having a bad experience with someone the first time, I knew how important it was to find a good mentor, not only professionally but also personally. Not every mentor is going to connect well with a mentee. As a mentee it is very crucial to know what you are looking for in a mentor. At the end of the day, your mentor is going to become a huge part of your life, and you want to have a strong connection with them. Learning from someone who is more experienced is valuable in business and in life, and you want that person to be authentic and trustworthy.
The whole point of seeking out a mentor is to gain an important understanding of your situation and what you want your future to look like. The best way to do that is to be proactive with how you see the coming years unfolding. The right mentor is always going to guide you, encourage you, and have a good connection with you. So, the next time you are seeking a mentor think about these three important keys and find that person who will be committed to your path.
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