Three Types of Career Mentors You Shouldn’t Be Without

If you’ve been a reader of Guide to Graduate for a while, you may recall a recent post where we shared the benefits of hiring a career coach to help you navigate your professional life. A career coach can be a wonderful asset in helping you achieve specific career goals, from landing a new role to finally getting that big promotion. 

But, if you’re looking for broader advice, or someone to bounce ideas off of, you may want to consider a similar type of role model in your professional life–a mentor.

Similarly to career coaches, career mentors help provide expertise and guidance throughout your working life. Mentors, however, are a bit more unstructured, and often come in the form of professional relationships, colleagues, and even your boss. Interested how a mentor may benefit you? Keep reading as we share the three types of career mentors you may be missing out on, along with tips and tricks to secure a mentor (or three!) of your own.

Mentor #1: You, Next Year

Think for a moment about your near-term career goals. Where do you want to be in one year? What would your role look like; what relationships would you have built; what goals would you have achieved? Now, go find that person.  

If you work for a larger company, you can usually seek out this version of “future-you” simply by socializing with and getting to know your coworkers. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in your network, too. Attend industry events and meetups, and focus on building relationships to bolster your network with folks who once had your same goals, and can offer invaluable tips and advice along the way. 

Mentor #2: You, in Five Years

Your “you-next-year” mentor is fantastic for helping you out with day-to-day questions or advice. Think of them as your go-to for tacticalities. However, that’s only going to get you so far. To truly excel in your career, you need to think bigger–and that’s where your five-year mentor comes into play. 

Make a list of your goals and aspirations for the next five years of your career. Determine where you’d like to be, and seek out a mentor who closely aligns with what that looks like. Because this mentor is aligned to longer-term goals, they are usually more experienced (think: mid- to senior-level managers) and respected within your company. As such, this relationship will be a bit more buttoned-up than that of your one year mentor. 

Once you identify who this person is to you, ask a colleague or someone in your network for an introduction (if you need one), and ask to meet for coffee or a chat. Have some questions you’d like to ask prepped and ready, such as their career path, how they got to where they are now, and so on. End the conversation by thanking them, and ask if they’d be willing to  meet quarterly to check in.  Who knows–you may be building a long-term relationship with your future boss! 

Mentor #3: A Coach or Planner

You didn’t think we’d end this post without recommending a career coach again, did you? That’s because we’re big advocates for having an objective expert or guide to help you navigate the inevitable ups and downs of your career. 

By bringing on a career coach or planner, you can set long-term, strategic goals, and then fill in the gaps with the best mentor for the shorter-term milestones along the way. 

Continue Reading: Is it Time to Hire a Career Coach?

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