Whether you are in high school, college, or graduate school, it is important at every level of your life to find a mentor. Mentors are the people who will guide you to and through the next stage in life that you choose to get to.
Here are some of the common notions about what a mentor “looks” like:
- Highly successful
- Older than you
- Has the job or position you want one day
- Will know what you should do next in your academic or career path
Your mentor may fit these descriptions, but do not limit yourself to thinking about getting a mentor who may not necessarily be some or all of the things on this list.
Here are three qualities to look for when your search for an amazing mentor:
1.) They inspire you
There are a lot of ways to give inspiration. In this particular case, I do not mean you should necessarily go and look for a Tony Robbins or Dr. Phil type figure. The most inspiring people are often the ones who don’t just preach about amazing things- you can and have actually seen them in action. The way they live is inspiring. These are the people you want to find to be your mentors.
Even if they appear shy, or are a man/woman of few words, they will teach you a great deal just by allowing you to take a closer glimpse into how they behave in situations and relationships. Find people who act and live in ways that you admire – they will teach you a lot.
2.) You have a natural connection with them
Sometimes, we choose mentors because we think that they can directly help us get something we are looking for (like a job or internship). For instance, if you want to work in the media industry, you may put the blinders on and only consider having a mentor who works in the media industry. Or, if you start an internship, you may feel that your internship coordinator or direct boss should be your mentor during and after the internship.
It can be a great asset to have a mentor who works in the same field as you. In fact, I think it may be almost necessary, depending on the kind of environment you choose to work in. But, if you decide to choose someone in your industry or at a current or previous job/internship, remember that it is far more important to choose a mentor based on who you believe will support you in accomplishing your goals. You should not be searching for something like a job or internship opportunity from a mentor- that’s what networking opportunities are designed for, not mentorships. And if your mentor does offer you a job, think of it as a surprise bonus. But, remember- that should not be your primary objective.
Find someone who gets your vision and what you want to do. If you want to be an engineer, maybe that means finding another engineer to mentor you. Or, maybe it means finding an artist, or musician, or restaurant owner. Focus on choosing a mentor based on the connection you can make- and be open to the possibility that your best mentor may not “look” anything like what you are imagining.
3.) They will support you in all of your goals
For instance, if your best friend from college started a successful website and you want to do the same, ask that person to mentor you through the process. You may find that they can teach you so much more because there will likely be greater opportunity to relate to one another.
Think outside the box when it comes to choosing a mentor! When you find an amazing one, he/she has the potential to be an amazing resource for you, encouraging you to go and grow beyond what you perceive to be your limits.
Melissa is the Editor-in-Chief of studentbranding.com. She is also an Assistant Brand Manager at Time Inc. Home Entertainment, where she manages brand extension projects for numerous publications including: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, People, and Entertainment Weekly. Melissa majored in Psychology at Hamilton College and currently resides in New York City. To find out more, read her blog, follow her on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.