I just attended a client meeting where new graduates were reminded to “find a mentor if you want to succeed.”
Many of us are used to the image of a mentor as a gray-haired executive: the one expert who is supposed to have all the answers and can teach us the rules for starting our career. And we’ve seen firsthand the impact of having the right mentor at the right time…
The blogosphere constantly swirls with internship-related debates: Are internships “slave labor”? Paid or Unpaid? Which is better: Virtual or In-office internships? Internships vs. Entry-level Jobs.
Even after seeing thousands of internship postings pass through YouTern – until we thoroughly understood your goals and current issues we wouldn’t advise one way or another on any of these decision points.
However, there is one piece of advice we give everyone – regardless of career choice, financial situation, or any other criteria:
As an intern, you MUST choose a mentor-based internship. Here’s why:
“Mentors and sponsors aren’t just handed down to you. You have to ask for it.”
That’s good advice from Erica Dhawan, a leadership expert, Gen Y speaker, and advisor to Fortune 500 companies.
Most important, she says, is that when finding a mentor, you need to make like the Nike slogan and just do it. “‘It’s not only facing the fear [of asking someone to be your mentor], it’s also knowing who to ask,” she advised the room. “It’s a mix of planning, making a real connection, and then executing.”
Here are a few more of her tips:
At YouTern, we often say “coachability” – your willingness to learn from mistakes, accept and absorb feedback and then make deliberate improvements – is a huge factor in getting hired.
Successful job seekers and young professionals are coachable. Those who are not coachable… fail, and fail often.
Am I coachable?
You may be asking yourself that question. Lucky for you, a recent Gawker post titled “Here’s How to Condescend to 900 Job Applicants with a 3,000 Word Rejection Letter” (sub-titled “42 Do’s and Don’ts from a Dick”) provides an excellent litmus test for your level of coachability.
What is the importance of having a mentor? Does everyone need one? Should you have more than one? These are all questions that I’ve asked in the past and continue to hear from students and young professionals today.
In my opinion, there are really three main benefits of mentorship:
Coaching takes two to tango. Whether you have just entered the workplace, changed jobs or roles, or currently employed, what does the relationship look like between your manager as a coach and you as a coachee when it is at its best? What attitude or mindset do you need to be coachable?