A critical piece of growing in your career is seeking guidance from those who are knowledgeable. I’ve found myself being mentored by various people over the years of my journey as a lifelong learner. Here are my thoughts on navigating mentorship as the mentee.
Have a purpose.
It’s important to have a goal when seeking mentorship. As a mentee, you have this responsibility to your mentor. Their job may be guiding you along the path, but your job is choosing the path to travel.
What exactly are you looking for? Career guidance? Life advice? Cooking lessons?
Genuinely think about the purpose of having a mentor. Do you need someone to fill that role in your life at the moment? Or, do you just need some questions answered?
Mentorship is a journey. The duration of that journey isn’t always clear upfront, but it certainly helps to have a clue about where you’d like to go.
Define the relationship.
Before getting deep into the weeds of learning and growing, it’s important to establish the boundaries and expectations of the relationship. What does it mean to you to have a mentor? What does it mean to be a mentee?
Communicate upfront so both parties know what is expected of them. This allows you to find early alignment on the path that lies ahead.
Do you need regular support and feedback? Do you need someone to check in with every now and then to make sure you’re on track? Try to figure out the type of support you need.
If you don’t know, test multiple approaches and see what works for you.
When is it over?
Some things are meant to stand the test of time, but others aren’t. Different relationships will have different durations, and thus add varying amounts of value to your life.
Don’t get caught up in trying to anticipate that. Be present, attentive and measure your growth. During my college basketball career, I learned a number of lifelong lessons from mentors I consider to be seasonal.
I also have mentors now who I check in with regularly to measure career growth and find interesting skills to develop. Make the relationship work for you.
When you are ready to fly on your own, a good mentor will encourage you to do so. A great one will keep tabs on you afterwards. An exceptional one will continue to invest, and potentially remain a mentor for the rest of your life.
It’s over when you decide you’ve traveled far enough on the path together.
Find your way.
Ultimately, mentorship is something everyone goes about differently. I hope my insights can help you unlock the opportunities you need to elevate your skills in your area of interest.