Friday, May 3, 2013
The value of a mentor
I have a mentor. For me, I like having someone who knows both the fashion industry and me well. My mentor is also well-connected, well-respected and wise. She is more senior than me and has been in the industry much longer. When I am on a job search, I connect with her to talk through my opportunities. While I may know what job I like, I may not be clear on which would be the best career move. When I am unhappy about something that happened in my job, she can talk me off the proverbial ledge. I trust her judgment. She is a sounding board for my challenges and a terrific source of support.
Having a mentor is not for everyone, but the wrong mentor is not for anyone.
I have also mentored and been asked to mentor quite a few people in my career. What I have found is a wide range of reasons people seek a mentor and a wide range of reasons people want to be mentors. Discussing the terms and finding the right fit is something you may want to consider before selecting a mentor. I didn’t understand the importance of this until very recently.
One girl asked if I would be her mentor because she felt that she would never advance her position unless she had a more senior woman in the same company championing on her behalf. For the record, I do not agree with that notion and see it as a limiting belief. (I will cover and explain limiting beliefs in a later post.) My style of mentoring involves helping the mentee gather the skills and information s/he needs to get to the next level or make a positive decision. I would not consider promoting or suggesting to promote my mentee over someone who would be better for the job. I will champion anyone who is smart, full of potential or great at what they do. I don’t care if you are my mentee, a man, woman, Caucasian, African American, Asian, tall, short, young or old. Needless to say, I did tell her this and our mentor/ mentee relationship did not work out.
So before you embark on your journey to find a mentor, consider what you want. What would make a great mentor for you? What are the interactions you would like to have with your mentor? How would you like to interact with your mentor? Once you are clear on what you want, who would be a good match? Who do you respect that can help guide you through your career? How does that person’s value system match your value system?
Learn more about the fashion industry from Career Coach Kate Kibler at http://www.katekibler.com.