So you’ve landed that dream internship or full-time job, and you think you finally have a sense of where your career is headed. You may be tempted to sit back and relax – but hold on, the work’s not over yet.
Seeing that you’ve just achieved a major career milestone, this is a critical opportunity for you to give back by becoming a mentor. Whether it’s helping a younger student from your university or college, or a new intern at work, here are five reasons why mentoring others can move your career forward.
1. You’ll become more “well-rounded”
Mentoring is a chance to acquire valuable leadership skills in the early stages of your career. These skills include: giving constructive feedback, communicating in a clear and concise way, and being decisive.
Developing these skills in a low-pressure environment will create multiple opportunities for learning, and will ultimately set you apart from your peers. As the relationship progresses, you’ll also be able to ask your mentee for honest feedback that will allow you to further improve.
2. You’ll see how other people solve problems
While guiding your mentee through a situation, you may notice that he or she finds a unique solution to an issue that you would have never arrived at. Mentorship is a rare opportunity to gain a closer view into another person’s perspective and decision-making process, and simultaneously learn from it.
3. You’ll reflect on your own actions and learn from them.
As you mentor someone else, you’ll likely provide candid advice based on your own successes and failures. Sharing your experiences will encourage you to reflect on the past and pinpoint what you may have done differently today. Along the way, you’ll come to appreciate how your skills, maturity, and judgment have progressed.
4. Someday, you’ll need your mentee
Building a base of people that can advocate for you and speak to your leadership qualities is essential. This is the best way to spread your personal brand. Your mentee will have their own individual network, and they may even have multiple mentors.
The next time you encounter an issue of your own, your mentee’s connections could be vital to you. “Can you help my friend Lisa with a problem she’s been having?” does not sound as good as “Can you help my mentor Lisa with a problem she’s been having? She’s been really helpful to me, and I was hoping you could help her out in return.”
5. You’ll feel good
Achieving success on your own can feel nice, but your career will be more meaningful if you’re able to empower others along the way. Watching someone else grow, whether it’s gaining the confidence to try something new, or learning from a mistake, will prove to be far more rewarding than merely seeing these things happen to you. On top of this, your mentee will undoubtedly be grateful and appreciative of your support.
So let’s get started
While you’re in the early stages of your career, chances are that your mentee will be similar to you in age and mindset. This will make it easier for an organic relationship to develop, allowing your mentee to more easily open up to you. This will also ensure that the experiences are still fresh in your mind. Here are some ways to start:
Put yourself out there: Join special interest and industry network groups, place your name in your college or university’s alumni directory, and make sure you have a LinkedIn profile that shows your alumni and employment information.
Take initiative: Reach out to younger students from your school who have similar career goals, or offer to have a quick chat with the new employee or intern at work.
Don’t limit yourself: Mentoring doesn’t have to be face-to-face. If you have a busy schedule or your mentee lives far away, take advantage of Skype to replace coffee chats, or even use text messaging for quick questions.
It may seem scary at first, but these initial steps can lead to a long-term, rewarding mentor-mentee relationship. Just remember that this is one of the best investments you can make in your career, with benefits that will show in more ways than one. Who knows? Your mentee may just become your mentor someday.