The right mentor can help you accelerate your career, but finding one can be quite challenging if you don’t know where to look. When you’re starting your career, this can be pretty overwhelming, so with help from two amazing special guests, Lexie Pieper & Evelyn Marchany-Garcia, we’ve put together this guide to help you along.
In this article, we’ll tackle the following stages of gaining a mentor:
- What is a Mentor?
- Before You Start Looking
- Where To Find A Mentor
- Bonus Tips
So if you’re interested in finding the right mentor to help progress your career, keep reading!
What is a Mentor?
Before we explore where to find a mentor, let’s examine what a mentor is.
A mentor teaches, instructs, and guides someone with less experience. The relationship should be friendly and supportive, helping the mentee grow into someone with the necessary skills to progress in their chosen field.
A mentor doesn’t have to be someone in a specific role or position. In fact, anyone willing to impart the knowledge you don’t possess can be a mentor, from a colleague to a C-Suite member of your company.
Keep an open mind to the thoughts and experiences of those around you, because you never know what you can learn.
Before You Start Looking
You must know what you want before you find and gain a mentor. Having a clear understanding of how you want your career to progress is essential when approaching potential mentors. For example, it can help your chosen mentor know if they’re right for you, or if you’d be better suited to someone in their circle.
Knowing what you want beforehand also protects your reputation. For example, if you gain a mentor, and then realise that’s not what you want, suddenly changing your mind may negatively impact the mentor’s perception of you, especially if they’ve started to invest significantly in you.
Of course, being upfront and honest about your decision should help how it’s received.
Where To Find A Mentor
Now that you know what a mentor is, let’s look into the different places you can find one. While there are many more places you can find a potential mentor, these options should grant better success.
Depending on how they’re run, some internship groups can provide you with a mentor. Sometimes this only lasts until the end of the internship or course, but if you develop a particularly strong bond with them, this can continue throughout your career.
You may find that because your mentor frequently works with internship groups, they don’t have as much time for you after your internship ends. In this situation, try asking them for an introduction to someone with more availability.
It might sound strange, but if you’re new to a career in the Life Sciences, then one excellent place to look for mentors and build connections is your peers.
Because your peers already understand the role. By asking for their help and putting their input to use, you can master your duties more quickly. It also makes your colleagues feel respected and acknowledged. This is key to building long-term and reciprocal professional relationships, which can greatly benefit your career development.
Additionally, with these connections firmly in place, you may find that throughout your career, you and your contacts are in positions to help each other continue progressing.
One brilliant place to find mentors is at industry conferences or other speaking events. Approach the speakers, and try to build a rapport with them. Asking them to mentor you straight away isn’t likely to bring success, but if you develop a professional friendship first, this can quickly develop into a proper mentorship.
Of course, this method does come with two drawbacks. The speaker may not want to be a mentor; even if they do, you’re unlikely to be the only person asking for their help.
This can make the process quite competitive, so it’s essential to be genuine about why you want them to be your mentor. Being genuine can help you stand out from the crowd, and increase your chances.
Ask Your Connections
Just like you would ask for your colleagues’ guidance in your new role, the people you know may be aware of others better suited to help you progress. You might also find that by asking, you discover one of your current connections is open to taking you on as a mentee.
Don’t just stop at your first-level connections either! Speak to the people that your primary contacts know. By utilising connections effectively, you can gain access to a whole host of people capable of offering expert guidance in their field.
LinkedIn is an outstandingly useful tool if you need help finding these second and third-level connections.
Make connections during your studies! Some of our Ambassadors have found that more successful people stay connected to the people they studied with. You might all choose different paths, but more often than not, those paths intersect and you can help each other grow.
How to approach a mentor
It’s important to remember that mentorship is a professional-casual relationship, and you should treat it as such. Like external friendships, the best ones will develop and strengthen over time. Don’t try to force everything in your first meeting; instead, make the connection and have regular follow-ups.
If they’re not the right option
Another point worth remembering is that just because someone has agreed to mentor you, doesn’t mean they’re the best fit for you. Different people have different learning styles, and your mentor may not be capable of teaching in the manner you need best.
In situations like these, it’s best to be open and honest. Explain that you appreciate their efforts,
It may be worth looking for multiple mentors, and trying to learn what you can from each of them. As you progress, you can choose one area to specialise in.
Want to learn more about the Lift Up Initiative? Check out our other articles!