What to Look out for when Choosing a Professional MentorIdes Ofune 19th March 2019 0 COMMENTS
As you navigate through your professional career, having a mentor makes the journey easier. Your mentor should guide you into making important decisions – such as which course to study, which university to attend, your first job, switching jobs, starting a business and your mental health generally. You have to choose the right person and not anyone performing well in their chosen fields. You have to be able to choose that right fit. These five tips should guide you:
Accessibility: the person should be accessible to you either through phone calls, emails or physically. If you need guidance on a particular area, he should be minutes away through whatever medium you want to use. This will help for easy guidance especially when you want an urgent response. Sometimes, you want to say a quick hello or basically chat about anything. Don’t choose someone you can’t reach at all due to one difficulty or the other. I always advise someone you can walk into their office and not travel thousand of miles. Access is key!
Extra mile: the person should be able to go the extra mile for you. In five professional lessons from a dying man, I wrote about Randy Pausch whose mentor was willing to stick out his neck to ensure that he got admission into the university of his choice even when he failed the first time. When you apply for a job, you want that mentor to write a great recommendation letter and if possible, call the organisation telling them how greatly skilled you are. That’s the kind of Mentor you want.
Best Interest: the person has to have your best interest at heart. She wants to see you succeed, get that great job, start that profitable and innovative business etc. You don’t want to choose some who is threatened by your success or threatened that you may someday get ahead of her. That person will limit you and guide you astray. It may even draw bad blood between the two of you and you don’t want that. Choose someone who genuinely loves your success and is wholeheartedly in support of you.
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Availability: this is very key because sometimes, most successful people are very busy and may not be available to those who cannot directly benefit them. In addition, they are easy targets for people looking for one favour or the other. It will be difficult to see such a person. You may look up to him but he should not be your mentor. For example, while I may admire Mo Abudu of Ebony TV, I will not consider her as a mentor. She wouldn’t have the time to guide me effectively given how busy she is. She may do that for someone else closer to her. The key is availability to you.
Personality: you want to choose someone that has a nice personality. Someone that you can communicate with and bond nicely. The person must not necessarily be an extrovert but you as a Mentee should be able to get along with him. This is very important because you will be seeing this person frequently. If you have trepidation or heart palpitation each time you want to call him, then there is no point in having that person as a Mentor.
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Ides Ofune is currently a PhD Student at the University of Leeds. Her research focuses on civil society and accountability in improving the quality of education. She is the founder of Desert Bloom Initiative and editor of Desert Bloom Advisory. Ides is very passionate about education and creating an inclusive society. She speaks French and English fluently. She can be reached at email@example.com