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More Career Tips for You


Why You Should Go Out of Your Way to Find an Awesome Peer Mentor

Career Advice |

Imagine…You just had an invaluable meeting with one of your mentors. You feel really stuck at work, unsure whether to take that great promotion or follow your passion with the startup that asked you to join their team. Your mentor went through a similar dilemma, and their advice was fresh and honest.

Now, what if we told you that your mentor was not a senior leader in your field, a professor or your boss? Rather, your mentor was your peer—someone at the same level as you in their career. But, you ask, how can a peer be a mentor, and why would I even want a peer mentor?

Here are four reasons why you should have a peer mentor and some key steps to building a peer mentoring relationship that will last a lifetime:

1. They’re at the same stage of life you are

Mentors are the people you can turn to when decision-making gets tough. The advantage of peers is that only they understand what it means to be a Twitter-obsessed Millennial in a recession economy in ways that senior mentors cannot.

Maybe you’re both experiencing unemployment after college, or trying to figure out how to manage your online brand to reflect both your personal and professional life. Because your peers are confronting these same dilemmas, they’re equipped to empathize with the factors influencing your decision-making process.

2. They’re fluent in the new way of working

We live in an age of rapidly evolving technology and social media, which has impacted the way we work and live. Your peers are more likely to be excited about embracing these new technologies and work habits, whereas you might have to convince older generations of their value. Can Pinterest really leverage your brand capital? Who knows—but a peer mentor will be more likely to encourage your exploration of these emerging tools.

3. They’re safe sounding boards

Voicing your ideas, doubts and insecurities to someone who is at the top of their field is valuable, but it’s also incredibly intimidating. Sometimes it’s best to start with someone whose prestige or seniority won’t cause you to hold back. If you don’t feel comfortable pitching your idea to an older mentor, work through your thoughts with your peer mentor first.

4. Your peers will be the leaders of tomorrow

Your classmates, fellow interns and coworkers may be at the bottom of the totem pole today, but years down the road, you’ll all be at the peak of your career. Forming meaningful relationships today means you won’t have to reconnect for advice, collaboration or a favor later on.

So, how should you go about finding a peer mentor?

Start by thinking about the different communities you’re a part of and look for potential peer mentors in colleagues, friends, classmates and members of associations in your field.

When selecting a peer mentorbe sure to ask yourself what kinds of skills, knowledge and experience they have that would be valuable to you—and, conversely, what you have to share with them. If you have specific expectations, be upfront about these at the outset.

Lastly, remember that peer mentorship is about creating a genuine and sustained relationship for mutual growth, not just networking through someone. There is a distinction between the two.

Mentorship is ultimately about collaboration, sharing ideas, asking for feedback and not being afraid to ask for help or advice. Whether you are mentored by your peer or the CEO of your company, don’t forget to be open, honest and giving in return.

Special thanks to Zoe Schlag for her peer mentorship and contributions to this article.

To learn more about Equal Pay Day and Levo’s #Ask4More campaign, click here.

 

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6 Comments

This is something we should all read, and do. I have some friends that I consider to be peer mentors; I can talk to them about life but also about academics, and career related things

3y

This is such an important and under-appreciated source of mentorship, especially for those of us who are in environments where "traditional" mentorship is more scarce. Never underestimate how much you can learn from someone who is experiencing similar situations - the discussion & mirroring in and of itself is a huge step in the right direction.

4y

Totally agree on the need for a peer mentor. It is so helpful to have someone you can talk to that totally gets where you are coming from and what you are feeling. I'd say one of the best things of peer mentorship is knowing you aren't the only one feeling a certain way.

4y

I think having a peer mentor is what will get you through those crossroads in your life - whether it's with a career or relationship issue, they will have had or are having similar experiences.

4y

Peer mentors have been some of the greatest influences in my career. And it's always a beautiful thing when you can find those individuals within the walls of your own company!

4y
Carly Heitlinger

My favorite part about peer mentorship is that it's very much a two-way street. She gets you; you get her. I am always blown away at how insightful my peers are. It's immensely helpful that they are going through the same things as me or (even better) have already come out on the other side of a tough situation.

4y
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