Mentoring Helps Both Parties
Everyone needs career advice.
I am no different.
In the past few weeks, I’ve found myself in both the role of mentor and mentoree. The ability to have both experiences at once has allowed me to see how valuable advice is when people give it from the heart.
I have my circle of friends, confidants, and industry connections that I can call to talk about my career aspirations or what is happening currently in my life. Those things are important, regardless of what you’re seeking in terms of an opportunity.
Every step in a career is a new one, crossed between variations of opportunity that may be masked different from the experiences of those whose opinion you’re gathering. That doesn’t mean that those who mentor you are wrong, they just may be attempting to figure out the answers themselves.
But it is good to continue to ask advice, as long as those who give it provide you with no reasoning that they want anything but the best for you.
That’s why the game of “how to break into sports” isn’t the one you should be worried about playing. It’s really a Rube Goldberg device of “how to stay in sports” once you get inside.
Finding mentors means being one yourself. That may sound strange, but in many ways, it helps you gain the right questions to ask for your own career as you attempt to help others.
I’ve had quite a few questions sent my way and I’m happy to try to answer them. Where should I go to school? Should I go to school? Should I take this job or another one?
All of these questions are valuable in my development as much as they are in the person that I’m giving advice to. Because they make me think about finding the right answers to provide. The last thing that I want is to give a jaded or incorrect answer because I take my job as a mentor seriously.
That being said, I know that those who mentor me do the same. The answers never come easy or quick, they tend to be longer conversations over a period of days or weeks. That’s because my mentors, honored to be asked their opinion, want to provide me with the best answer possible. Those are the people that you should always try to seek answers from. They tend to give them cautiously, because there are no easy answers when attempting to provide the best of intentions.
Mentorship goes beyond words into actions.
One of my old bosses taught me how to treat graduate assistants and interns while I worked in his athletic department. He picked up the tab for them. I always recognized that those little things, along with getting to know those who typically do not have a voice in the department, mattered. It made the interns and graduate assistants work harder for the department, for my old boss.
That type of sweat equity and loyalty cannot be bought simply by being the top of the food chain. It has to be earned through example and investment in those at the bottom of the heap.
My old boss knew that without saying a word about it.
I’ve heard of bosses who don’t attempt to offer such personalization toward mentorships and in many ways, their own careers suffer as a result.
My belief is that they were never challenged to figure out someone else’s career, which may have been an issue for them when finally asked later on.
We all have our own path to go down. Some are jaded folk who don’t want to know you, others take the time to invest.
Investments look easy, but in order to have a great return, they have to pay off for both the party selling and the party buying.
That’s what mentorship is. It’s a case of both parties achieving something out of the deal. Both the one asking the question and the one thinking of how to provide the best answer that will yield the greatest outcome.