A report a while back by Catalyst, the non-profit research membership organisation, supported the theory that organisations that nurture and develop their employees will see benefits from doing so. For graduates and young professionals, having a mentor can be a great way of progressing your career, whether in a chosen field or for more general career advice. Here's how to find a mentor to help you with your career progression.
Decide on what you are looking for in a mentor
Do you need more advice on which skills you will need to develop your career? Are you looking for a complete career change? Are you pondering the never-ending Bright debate – big fish in a small pond or small fish in a big pond?
Your mentor does not need to be with you for the rest of your life and could only play a very small part in your wider career progression. Just make sure they can actually help reach the goal you have set for yourself.
How to find your mentor
Unfortunately, this may not be so simple. Not all budding investment bankers happen to have direct access to CEOs after all.
You may want to check and see if your HR department has a mentoring scheme already in place. These are not always guaranteed to produce exactly what you want (the mentor involved may not be 100% committed!) but it will give you some good ideas as to who to look for and the sort of advice a mentor could have to offer.
Networking will be your best friend when it comes to finding a mentor. LinkedIn is a great tool to consider. Try searching by sector and look for any connections you may already have, whether it be university or mutual acquaintance.
And don’t forget about friend and family connections. Your future mentor may be someone you know through friends or family. Take advantage of the opportunity to pick their brain about their professional experience.
How to approach a potential mentor
Your potential mentor is likely to be extremely busy. As such, it's a good idea to identify exactly how much of their time you are asking for and approach them professionally and with commitment.
If you propose a coffee meeting, then ensure you are very clear about what you need from them and when. Let them know that you would like to ask them some questions about their professional experience to date at a certain cafe on a specific date and at a specific time. It is also a nice touch to make sure you pay on that day.
Learn how to find a mentor and network effectively with Bright Network Academy
Networking is an essential skill to cultivate on your career journey. Take our how to network effectively module on Bright Network Academy with careers author Jake Schogger to learn more about the importance of networking and how to develop your networking skills.