As someone who has mentored more than 20 young men and women, I can tell you that there is nothing more rewarding than working with someone who wants to polish their skill set and be the best in their profession. While most of the students and young adults I have worked with have come to the table fully prepared, others have shown up expecting a life coach or worse, my contacts and knowledge to just be handed over to them without doing the work.
While reaching out and asking for mentorship is a positive act, it is important to understand that mentors are people will full and busy lives and careers of their own and requesting their time before you’re ready can backfire. So, in the hopes of helping you get the most out of this relationship, I am sharing a few ways to prep before you make the big ask.
Identify one area you want to improve.
This first step is key. Instead of thinking about your “dream job” or the company you want to get into, consider the area you want to grow in. Do you need help in digital strategy? Want to feel more at ease speaking publicly? Finding it hard to put your CV together? You may want to do all of the above, but taking the time to self-reflect and prioritize your needs is the only way to address them effectively.
F*cking Google It
Ever had someone interrupt your workday to ask you for easily-obtainable information? If so, you know how lazy it looks. If you were the one asking, let me be the person to tell you how lazy it looks.
One of the best skills you can equip yourself with is the ability to research, and as we live in the age of technology, there’s no excuse to ask someone for information before you’ve at least done an extensive Google search. Spend some time online searching for online courses, in-person workshops, books and podcasts that will aid in your growth. Event Brite, Udemy and Meet-Up are all great places to start and The Muse has put out a solid list of podcasts that promise to give your career a boost.
Make a Plan.
You wouldn’t jump into your car and start driving without directions so why would you just dive into something as important as your career progress without having a solid understanding of where you want to and what time you want to get there?
Once you have chosen your materials, set up your short and long term goals. Example: I will listen to 3 podcasts and attend one meet-up this week, begin my 6-week course on Monday and listen to a podcast a week between now and (date). Hold yourself accountable by creating a Trello board with your goals and tasks and checking in every week.
Once you have set a plan in motion, get moving. Don’t wait for “the right time”, just start. Once you have started, commit to seeing it through, reminding yourself that you are worth the investment. Sticking with it will show you that you are able to keep your own word and just think about where you will be in 6 weeks or 6 months time. You’ve got this!
Seek a Mentor
Now that you have done the work and can show someone that you’re serious about becoming a better version of your professional self, you’re ready to reach out to others in your network. You will not only have more information about what you truly need from an outside source, but you will stand out as someone who is strategic, focused, clear and hardworking. What better way to attract a great mentor (and show respect for their time).