On Finding a Mentor

If you are at the beginning of your career, the learning curve is likely to be a bit steep. One way to help you acclimate to your company and its culture is to find a mentor.
Regardless of what field you are in, having a mentor is always a good idea. A mentor can offer essential tips on helping you realize your goals, avoid problems and handle office politics.
The problem is finding a good mentor. What kinds of things should you look for?
The first thing may seem pretty obvious, but it should not be overlooked – a mentor should have a good deal of experience in the area or specialty in which you work.  For example, if you are manufacturing manager, you would want a mentor that also has supervised/managed in a manufacturing environment.
A mentor also should be readily available, someone who works in the same region you do or even in the same organization as you do.  If the individual works where you do, he or she would be better able to help you with problems that are specific to your area.
A mentor should be someone who is enough like you so that you can get along with him or her, but different enough to be able to offer insight in areas in which you may be weak.  A mentor who is your complete opposite would probably be someone you would have a great deal of difficulty relating to.  But if your mentor is just like you – with the same strengths and weaknesses — it is unlikely that you would be able to learn very much the individual.
A mentor should be someone who is not only willing but excited to share ideas and experiences with you, someone who has a bit of the teacher in his or her personality.  He or she should take a personal interest in his or her relationship with you and gives you constructive advice and feedback.
A mentor should be someone who is respected in your field.  He or she shows real enthusiasm about the work.  A good mentor sees the importance of continual growth and learning and sets goals and challenges for both of you to meet.
You don’t have to have any formal arrangement in your relationship with a mentor.  There are no papers to sign.  There is just the acknowledgement that this is a respected, experienced person who is there to help you out as you grow in your career.
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