A Mentor for Your Career Path
As my personal career unfolds, I keep looking back wondering how I got here. I specialized in Justice Architecture – but where did this passion come from? Even though I can’t pinpoint when I made these decisions, I do recognize I didn’t make them alone. Friends, leaders, peers and experiences were integral to the opportunities set before me. My leadership mentors taught me how to look for those opportunities, and encouraged me to explore them. Friends challenged me and asked the hard questions that made me stand up to say, “Yes, this is the path I am following.” The A&E profession is fortunate to have mentorship at the core of its practice, from the early days of apprenticeship through the careers of peers growing alongside and pushing one another.
The traditional model of mentorship provided communication between leaders and young professionals to teach them how to continue the legacy of their craft. Modern mentorship has developed beyond these goals to include cross-mentorship and ongoing development through every aspect of a person’s career. Choosing a mentor is a personal decision that helps you push past insecurities and develop a network of leaders, colleagues and outside opportunities for every stage of your career.
1. Choose a mentor that inspires you to take on new opportunities you don’t typically see as available. A mentor should open doors by example and leadership, but leave it up to you to make the most of the opportunity. This allows you to own the opportunity and customize your objectives and career goals.
2. Don’t limit yourself to one mentor. Many people can offer perspectives and insights that complement your career path. Choosing particular strengths from multiple mentors rather than one individual allows you to get the most out of every colleague or leader. Additionally, each person may have connections and networks you can engage with and use to build your network in multiple directions.
3. Cross-pollinating your mentorship network will provide a wider breadth of opportunities and balance your skills. If you only focus on one strength, your other skills will become under-utilized or overpowered – which limits your diversification of skills.
4. Find mentors that challenge your weaknesses. Acknowledging your weaknesses to someone shares a vulnerability that will personally tie you to your mentor. A good mentor will help assess and improve your weaknesses, not make you feel inadequate and encourage you this growth edge.
5. Believe in mentors for the life of your career. The only thing more difficult than getting in to your career is getting out of it. You will need support, understanding and guidance to follow how your career changes through your last years. How do you plan for retirement? How do you work with young staff to share the wealth of knowledge you have accrued? These questions are not easy, especially when look beyond your career to the next phase of life.
Leaders and peers with foresight and personal relationships can mentor you through your career and personal choices. But as they say, "There is always more to learn," and mentorship is a life-long endeavor.