Finding a mentor isn’t the easiest feat, but it is surely worthwhile. A mentor can guide you through transitional phases in life that a supervisor at work, or dear friend may not be able to. I stumbled upon my first mentor, and fell in love the experience of having someone who’s “been there, done that” to hash things out with. Since I have been able to appreciate the value of the give and take that defines mentorship. Here are three qualities I suggest to seek out in a mentor:
- First, look for someone who has a similar learning style. This will allow you the opportunity to quickly become comfortable with each other. For example, if you are very detail oriented and granular with critical solving, look for this in a mentor. On the other hand, if you prefer a macro approach to problem solving, then make sure your mentor does too! Having a similar learning style will allow you to get down to business quicker, by skipping over the bumps that come when you begin to work closely with someone.
- Second, seek out someone who sees the benefit of having a mentee. In other words, you’ll want to find someone who values intergenerational relationships and is open to learning from someone who is most likely younger. This will allow your mentor-mentee relationship to be balanced, as your mentor will value your perspective. As often as a mentor provides you guidance, you can offer a fresh perspective on everything you approach together!
- Lastly, make sure you admire your mentor. You’ll want to be excited and psyched about their accomplishments. You should be able to look at at least one feat in their life (writing ability, advanced degree, etc) and truly appreciate their capabilities. Make sure they’ve done something that you want to do- this way they’ll help you get there too!
To whatever extent you plan to work with a mentor, make sure you thank them! As a start, try thanking them via your email signature with something like, “thank you for your mentorship this week.” Until you bring it up they may have no idea how much you appreciate them sharing their time with you. Once your working relationship is more established, a handwritten thank you note is also a nice touch. Learning how to be a mentee now will help you be open to mentorship in the future and then you can pay it forward!
Brooke Petit is a graduate of Providence College, where she studied Sociology and interned with three nonprofit organizations. She currently works in philanthropy and is interested in public policy, data analysis, social change and applied sociology. Brooke loves American handmade crafts, snail mail, and iced green tea. When not working her life is enjoyably filled with electro funk concerts and mindfulness meditation. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.