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#2 Professional Mentors

Find a great mentor to help guide you on your path to success.

When you first join an organization, the entire experience can seem relatively daunting. Some organizations setup a formal Mentor Program to help employees get acclimated to the workplace, set them up for success within the organization, have someone guide you along your career path, as well as create a safe environment for you to address both personal and professional topics. Whether your organization has a formal program or not, it is crucial that a mentor and mentee have a good working relationship. You need a mentor that you can trust, someone who will help elevate your career, as well as call you out on your shit (<-- that's a business term, just ask google).

Some companies do not have a formal program and, in those cases, it is important to first get to know an individual before you approach someone and ask them to be your mentor. I talk about finding someone within the workplace, but another great option is to reach out to a connection within a similar industry (e.g. via university alumni programs). Have a clear idea of what your expectations are and what you hope to gain from the relationship.

Keep in mind that the relationship should be more than just one-sided. I always believe that I can learn from anyone, no matter what their educational background, years of experience, etc. For me, having a mentee is just as rewarding. Just because I have more years of experience than someone, doesn't mean I have the same experiences. There is a reason you were hired into the company - your uniqueness (or YOUness), even down to small personality details, are things people can learn from. Let me give you a simple example...

My husband, introverted engineer, says that I am one of the most extroverted people that he knows. He cringes inside when he has to go out and meet new people or is put into social settings with many people. While I thrive off of those situations, it is draining for him. He knows that going out to social gatherings and putting himself in somewhat uncomfortable situations are what help him grow as a person. In the same setting I learn from him how to be a better listener (instead of always talking!) and learn from new people. My husband will tell me when I'm acting too overbearing and I tell him when he appears to antisocial.

Whether you believe it or not, people are able to identify both your strengths and weaknesses. The trouble is, that most people don't like giving constructive feedback and/or do not know how to do it in a professional way. It is tough to hear this type of feedback as well, but imagine how great of a business[wo]man] you could become if you took that feedback and learned from it!