To a graduate fresh out of university, a mentor can be an invaluable resource, providing advice and expertise that takes decades to build. Since hospitality and tourism are people-driven business models, mentorship has always existed in some form or another in these fields, and it could just be the key to your career success.
As the industry grows and evolves, new insights, techniques, and innovations are required of employees. As hospitality expands to include new fields and emerging trends, such as the use of room booking software and apps or online marketing, modern mentors to young hospitality and tourism professionals might even include leaders from other industries – or fellow young professionals themselves.
Hospitality is an art, and in this field, the best industry secrets and tricks of the trade are passed on from one generation of professionals to the next. In this deeply collaborative line of work, having the seasoned perspective of a mentor will only boost your career. Read on for our set of guidelines that will help you select the right mentor and foster a successful professional relationship with them.
Identify Your Goals
The key to a successful mentoring relationship is knowing what you want to learn from it, especially if your mentor operates outside of your company or field. Before approaching a potential mentor, identify your professional goals. Once you do this, you will gain a better understanding of what kind of guidance you would need to accomplish your aspirations. For example, if you specifically want to learn about mixology, it would not be very helpful to approach someone who works in the Marketing department. Aligning your specific career goals with a particular mentor will also show that you’ve done your research on their past accomplishments and specialties and are serious about your profession, which will make you look like a promising investment of their time and advice.
Build Your Board
You will likely need more than one mentor. Assemble your own personal board of directors by seeking out advisors with unique skill sets and experiences who can provide several unique perspectives on the same industry. Consider reaching out to leaders outside of your workplace, social network, or even your field; working with people from other industries is a great way to diversify your skills. Even if you never have a face-to-face meeting with them, you may still be able to communicate by e-mail and ask for career advice that way. Having more than one mentor ensures that you can access a wide panel of experts to call upon whenever your career (or life!) throws you a curveball.
If you’re nervous about asking someone to be your mentor, there is no need to jump right into the topic– start by requesting a short meet-and-greet such as a conversation over coffee. In your introductory email, state what you admire about their career path or what topics you would be interested in discussing with them. Keep in mind that many professionals were once in your shoes, and they are often more than happy to help a young person get started! It’s always flattering to be approached by someone who admires your work, making mentorship requests are more welcome than you might think.
Keep it Professional
Your goal in soliciting a mentor should be to create a strategic partnership between yourself and someone you admire. What you discuss is up to you and your mentor; however, it’s a good idea to set clear guidelines for communication right from the get-go. For example, do you expect confidentiality from your mentor? Do you license them to advocate on your behalf, or would you prefer they stay on the sidelines? Defining what you want to learn from a mentor (and what you can offer them) early on will help you both make the most of your time.
You can maintain this relationship by scheduling regular appointments, sending out an agenda for what you’d like to discuss in advance, and always emailing your mentor a thank you note when you follow up.
Mentoring Goes Both Ways
A modern mentoring relationship should make a positive impact on both parties. Be prepared to share your experience as a Millennial employee in the hospitality and tourism industry – your mentor will appreciate the insider access to your knowledge, skills and attitude. If asked to remark on a subject of interest to your mentor, remember to be solutions-oriented and phrase your response in a constructive manner.
Modern mentoring may include non-traditional relationships as well, such as groups of young professionals advising one another on wise career moves or learning from leaders working in industries other than your own. Don’t disregard all that your peers have to offer: start a hospitality professionals club as a place where you and your fellow colleagues can discuss your careers! Access to a mentor (or better yet, multiple mentors) is a valuable resource for you in your professional development, so get started today!