Interns: Create Your Personal Board of Directors Now!

Do you have people in your life who care about your goals and your career—outside of your family?

If not, there is no better time in your career to cultivate such a group—a collection of influencers who could make the difference between having a successful career and, well, not.

I’m talking about your personal Board of Directors—a group of interested parties from various parts of your life who really care about you and are ready and willing to advise you on both professional and personal issues (because everything is personal!)

Mentors, Coaches and Sponsors

In these pages, we talk a lot about mentors, coaches and sponsors. Mark Babbitt recently wrote a great post on this subject.

But sometimes a mentoring relationship seems too formal and a coaching relationship seems too casual. When the big questions come up for you, such as, “Which job should I take?”, or “Is this the right time to make a move?”, or “How do I make more money?” …wouldn’t it be great to have a group of strong thinkers and advocates to convene just to answer your questions?

Putting Together Your Board

Your Board doesn’t need to be a formal affair, but it’s best to ask participants formally if they would be willing to helpyou, on an ad hoc basis, as issues come up. Those you choose should be selected for their salient advice and counsel and for their concern about your well-being. If possible it’s good to have some variety in terms of the Directors’ fields, expertise and temperament, so you get a better range of advice. They don’t have to know each other, but at certain times you may want to convene your Board as a group—a conference call will do—so you can bat around the pros and cons of the decision that’s on the table.

Using your Board Judiciously

Never forget that your Directors’ time is very important and you should be extremely thoughtful in your approach to asking for advice. Depending on your particular relationship with each person, be sure that they know how much you appreciate their time and attention. Ideally this is a relationship that will only grow over the years, as you mature in your career.

Surround yourself with champions who care about your career and goals now—and benefit from their experience for a long time to come.

About the Author: Allison Cheston is a New York City-based career advisor who works with mid-career executives and young adults to help them identify their unique value in the marketplace and explore alternative careers. Allison is the author of an upcoming book In the Driver’s Seat: Work-Life Navigation Skills for Young Adults, to help young adults from late high school through college develop strengths and interests and match them to internships, coursework and, ultimately, the right job.

Cheston blogs frequently on career issues for young adults at her own blog, In the Driver’s Seat as well as at Forbes. She also blogs for mid-career professionals at The Examiner. You can reach Allison on Twitter.

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