Why More Women Should Seek Out Mentors
Do you ever feel in need of guidance, but don’t know where to look? Getting advice in the workplace isn’t always easy, but finding the right person to ask for help can be invaluable.
In one of our previous blog posts, “Four Steps to Reduce Burn Out,” we looked at some simple ways to stay on track and achieve our goals. Among them, finding support ranked at the top. But how do you parlay the support of co-workers into career development?
Find a mentor.
A 2011 LinkedIn study surveying 1,000 female professionals in the United States found that women rely on their network not only for job hunting and recommendations, but also for career advancement, collaboration, keeping up with industry trends and professional guidance.
The value of mentorship lies beyond garnering positive recommendations while job hunting. Seeking the advice of a mentor allows you to grow your skills in leadership and learn from their experience. The study showed that 82% of women think having a mentor is important to professional and personal growth. Despite these benefits, however, 1 in 5 American women report never having had a mentor.
So, if you want to find a mentor, where do you begin?
1. Have a goal.
Who comes to mind when you think of the word “mentor?” Your boss? Your co-worker? Your college professor from six years ago? When you begin searching for a mentor, the first thing to ask yourself is, “What is my goal? What do I hope to gain from this relationship?” Is it insight? Advice? Expertise? The better you know what you hope to learn, the better you can choose someone to guide you in that direction.
“Target people who have skills that you think will complement and help you enhance your own,” said Sandy Botcher, Vice President of Northwestern Mutual’s Disability Income department.
2. Be aware.
A mentor does not have to be a supervisor in your company. Not all great mentors are sitting a few feet away from you. You should constantly be on the lookout for people with the skills you’d like to improve upon or learn. Is it leadership? Problem solving? Public speaking? The ability to foster new talent? Or maybe the ability to adapt to change easily? Look around. These skills may be emulated in your neighbor, friend or even a relative.
3. Be proactive.
In the 2011 survey, LinkedIn learned that 67% of women who had never been a mentor were never asked. Mentors aren’t going to come find you. You have to be on the lookout. Seek out new opportunities to grow and network with other professionals in positions you aspire to fill in the future.
4. Don’t forget about the Internet.
There are a variety of resources available online for professional and personal growth. From Jabil Joules and Jabil’s blog to an alumni search on LinkedIn, use the tools at your disposal to connect with other professionals.
5. Pop the question.
In general, most people want to help others learn and grow. But you won’t get anywhere sitting idly by. Show initiative! Be excited! And ask them! Remember, the worst they can say is “no.” Even if they are unable to take you on as a mentee, they may be able to connect you with another mentor.
If you feel too uncomfortable to ask for a mentor directly, use your network. Ask a co-worker or a mutual friend to make introductions on your behalf.
When you begin your relationship, be open and set goals. Remember that a mentorship is a two-way relationship. Take it seriously. Respect their time with you, be willing to work hard, and show that you are grateful for their help.
We want to hear from you:
How do you approach mentorship? How have mentors helped you grow your career at Jabil?