Four Things You Gotta Know Before Finding A Mentor
Alicia here- I’m Be Change’s Community Engagement Lead and I’ve had years and years of experience with mentors and there’s a few things I need you to know (so you can learn from my experience) before you find the one that fits what you’re looking for.
Throughout your life, you might have heard people talk about mentors. Sometimes people talk about how mentors shaped their life, push them to new achievements, and still believed in them even when they failed. Other times, people’s experience with mentors were not positive supportive experiences. So, what are some ways you can pick a mentor that will help build you up? Here are some things to look for:
1. Is this mentor interested in building you up as an individual
While trying to be exactly like your mentor sounds good on paper – it rarely works out in the end. You are building a different idea, in a different time, with different obstacles. You have different skills and perspective that makes you awesome. Find mentors that will understand what’s awesome about you, and build that up (even if it’s different than what they might have done). That way, if they ever do critic a decision you made – you know it’s coming from a good place.
2. Find someone with skills you want to learn
For this, I am encouraging you to find someone with skills you really want to learn. These can be hard (software coding, graphic design etc),soft skills (relating to people, giving pitches), or a bit of both (project management). Sometimes, you might feel pressure to learn skills we don’t really want to know. An example of this is the start up space with everyone being coder. Coding isn’t right for everyone, so don’t feel pressure to learn it if it really doesn’t jive with you. And, get a mentor that respects what you want to learn, and what you would rather partner/hire someone else to do.
While they might not have the time to teach you the skills you want to learn, mentors are great to point you to resources where you can learn, check in your process and coach you before a big event/project.
3. Find someone who understands your field
For me, this was a big one. I would meet a lot of awesome people who I’d be considering as mentors, but then I’d realize they didn’t know very much about the field I was hoping to break into. Now, this matter less if they are mentoring you in a specific skill (as in #2). However, if you are hoping for your mentor to help you get connected in the field or vet your idea - their experience in the specific field is important.
4. Know it’s okay to say good-bye
For many reasons, you might want to say good-bye to a mentor. Maybe you aren’t getting along as well as you like, the relationship doesn’t feel supportive of your goals, or maybe you have surpassed them in your change making. Know that it’s okay to start moving away from them, or ask them for a friendship instead of mentorship.
Mentorship is really valuable to ChangeMakers. It helps us create change by learning from people who have done it before. I hope these tips will help you know what to look for in mentorship – stay tuned for more tips on how to actually ask someone to be your mentor.