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Saturday, 24th February 2024



A mentor is someone who is usually older and more experienced than you, likely to be either working for the same organisation or in the same field or profession as you. Their aim is to give you objective independent support to help you progress, without any personal agenda. Many large organisations put resources and staff into this, and encourage seniors to mentor juniors. It is always best to have one independent mentor outside the organisation, to whom you can talk and confide, and from whom you can seek guidance. Usually, these relationships are unpaid and voluntary, and do not involve a huge time commitment from the mentor, say two to four days a year maximum, unless there is a particular problem or concern.

There are different models of mentoring, and different styles depending on the personalities involved. The best mentor is one who listens and tries to give you advice after knowing your skills and talents, and that which is in your best interest. The choice of what you do with it is always upto you.

How do you go about finding good mentors? Networking helps a lot. Use community contacts, uncles or aunts even can often be very good - although this should be kept as a professional relationship, not  a social one. Your professional body or Univesity alumni could also help. I know the London School of Economics, where I was a student, is about to launch a big mentoring initiative. In summary:

  • Invest time and effort to find a good mentor who is senior to you and more experienced
  • Create a formal relationship and agree basic terms, like how often you will meet, what is best way to communicate, and what should be the broad agenda of each meeting
  • There is no harm in having two different mentors, one inside the organisation, one outside
  • Share your achievements and challenges, and your concerns
  • Listen to their advice very carefully as it is often personal and filled with wisdom and experience
  • Mentors can often see the big picture very well, something that you may fail to see at all.
  • Be a good mentee and dont be overdemanding or overbearing - dont disturb them too much, and send them update emails if you need to. Share the good news with them especially - they always likes to hear of progress and achievement and it motivates them to keep your interests and development on their mind.

Article added on 10th December 2009 at 3:18pm