Your Guide to Mentorship
It's everything you need to know: Advice from mentors, steps for finding your own, and tips for making the most of mentor relationship.
“A successful mentor-protégé relationship will only work if it is a two-way street, each individual bringing new ideas and a consistent approach to helping and respecting the other.”
"Superstar mentees understand that it’s their job to drive the relationship. They’re proactive and diligent about following up. I especially love when they keep me posted about how a situation I was advising them on turned out."
"A mentorship is about mutual, not personal, benefit. As your relationship grows and you talk through the challenges, successes, and failures of your careers, you both will gain a stronger understanding of the many different personalities, priorities, and skill sets of the women around you."
Krawcheck says women by default will stand out because they are in the minority on Wall Street so they should take that chance to make a real impact.
“First of all,” she told me, “recognize that you have a long life ahead of you and things come in stages. You don’t have to try to do everything at once. When you’re just out of college, the most important thing is to find what’s going to be your first job. What is going to be the first set of experiences that will then set you up for either the next job or going on to graduate school.”
How do you get your mentor motivated? Remember this isn’t a one-way street. Here are some tips on how you can reach out to your mentor.
"I’ve prided myself on building relationships with my mentors that allow for candid, unapologetic honesty. It takes time to reach that place in a mentor-mentee connection, but once you achieved that trust you’ll be surprised how much more impactful the relationship will become."
Regardless of where you are in your career, having a mentor and/or sponsor in your corner can be extremely beneficial. It’s also important to know how to think about each of these relationships. Remember that both mentors and sponsor want to see you achieve your goals, but that there are slight distinctions between them.
“Part of having a good mentor is being a good student. The second you think you have ‘made it’ or become ‘peers’ is the second you stop learning from your mentor. We can always learn, no matter how good or successful we get."
Even as a young twenty-something, I had good advice to give and had influence over others. You are an expert in whatever it is that you do, no matter your age.
It’s crucial to be able to discuss ideas and decisions with someone with no stake in the company, in an environment where you’re supported. A mentor is thoroughly invested in your professional development, but is not attached in any way to the success of your company.
“It's critical to celebrate and lift your peers. People are chasing potential mentors, and we should always have a mentor or two, but support and rock with your peers. That girl standing next to you, could be the one to hire you in 5 years, or could be the one contact at a major brand whose sponsor dollars you need."
Kate encouraged me to be honest, not only about the things I enjoyed, but also about the things I didn’t. And doing that really propelled me forward. Ask yourself: What specifically is it about jobs I’ve done or careers I admire that excites me?
Elle Magazine editor Leah Chernikoff told Real Simple, “I’m at least five years older than many of my coworkers and despite my being supposedly wiser and their boss, I find myself taking notes from them on new apps, trending hashtags, and the latest way to stream live video.”
I personally have dozens of mentors, not just one. I check in with them on a somewhat random basis, and overall I’d break them down into two categories of people: 1) people who are experts in my field and can push me to get even better at what I do, and 2) people who are experts in fields I am not, so that I can constantly be challenging myself to learn new things.
"Seek out mentors in those areas as well as mentors who inspire and motivate you in areas where you already excel. To know someone who you respect has your best interest in mind and will give you candid, albeit sometimes tough, advice is an invaluable gift."
Think a formal sit down in an office is the only way to connect with a mentor? WRONG. Here are some great suggestions for connecting with your mentor (you don’t even have to live in the same country!) ›
Tip: Skip the in-person chat. Make things easy and actionable by hopping online for a 30 minutes. Prepare by getting your key questions ready, know what scenarios or challenges you’d like help navigating, and have a pen and paper near your laptop for note-taking.
“Your best friend could be your biggest competition.” Yes, that’s true. But if you’re not careful and let your guard down, your biggest competition might just become your biggest and most valuable asset.
Women should look for both male and female mentors—and mentees. While it’s important for women to help build up a strong new generation of female leaders, what will really help with creating a more diverse workforce is ignoring gender.
Don’t limit yourself by industry. Regardless of their focus, successful people know how to navigate office politics and negotiate their salary. Plus, you may want to switch careers someday and you’ll have a head start by knowing people in many fields.
“A big part of my morning ritual is about what I don’t do: When I wake up, I don’t start the day by looking at my smartphone. Instead, once I’m awake, I take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful, and set my intention for the day.” - Arianna Huffington
Even if the feedback really upsets you, try to resist saying something emotional or impulsive that you will regret. Instead, just say "thank you," sleep on it, and if you still don't agree with it, set up another time to discuss it once you've cooled down. Remember, the fact that you're having the conversation is a good sign.
Nurture relationships with people you respect and click with, not just the most successful people you meet.
Have you ever had that “I MUST meet her” moment when you learn about a prominent businesswoman with a career that you’ve always dreamed of? Your next thought was probably about how to nab her email address. What if I challenged you to meet new mentors and keep up with established ones with everything but Outlook?
After carefully researching her background, I sat down and wrote a brief but thoughtful email explaining that I was inspired by her work, and was hoping to have the opportunity to work alongside her and learn from her wealth of experience. I also explained in the email the specific ways in which I could contribute to her business.
"The earlier you learn that you should focus on what you have, and not obsess about what you don’t have, the happier you will be. You really will be happier in life if you let go of the things you will never have."
From time to time, you’ll have to rely on your mentor to help you negotiate sensitive issues, whether personal or legal practice related. Your mentor must be someone you can trust. While trust is a difficult thing to gauge at first, seek out someone who doesn’t gossip or speak badly of others. This is the type of mentor who will keep your confidences as well.
“According to some people, I peaked in my early 20s. I was like, ‘Oh, really? I feel like I’m getting better.'”
Any mentor’s goal is to help you advance, learn, and prosper, and with his or her guidance and support, you can absolutely do so gracefully and, of course, gratefully.