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Should I find a career mentor? (yes, and here’s why)

Mentoring. It’s a loaded topic that you may have heard lots or little about.

People like to throw around advice like “everyone should have a mentor” and “without a mentor you will get nowhere”.

But what does it actually mean to have a mentor? 🤔

What role do they play in your life and how do you use their knowledge to advance yourself?

All great questions and ones that we will answer in this blog post. Let’s go ✌️

What is a mentor?

Let’s start simple. A mentor is usually (but not always) someone older and more experienced than you in a topic that you would like to learn about.

More often than not a mentor relates to your career, but it could be other topics like gardening or how to apply makeup too 💄

What are the different types of mentors?

Mentors can be official and unofficial.

An official mentor is someone you connect with formally to advance your career, like through our virtual work experience. 

An unofficial mentor can be someone you admire – like a young veterinarian that you follow on TikTok but don’t know personally - or a family connection, like your aunty. 

If you’re a high school student reading this, you might be thinking you couldn’t be a mentor, but if you have younger siblings or cousins you are likely already an unofficial mentor to them.

Who can be a mentor?

Anyone can be a mentor, but for the sake of today’s blog we’re going to dive deeper into career mentoring and what that looks like 🤓

Why do I need a mentor for my career?

“It's who you know – not what you know” is a common saying about work. Of course, if you’re fresh to the working world and are planning to enter an industry that no one else in your family is in, it can feel hard to know where to start.

A mentor helps someone advance by sharing industry knowledge, identifying job opportunities for their mentee, and potentially opening doors when the time is right.

These professionals have walked the path before you and have the industry contacts and connections that could potentially get you an interview for a graduate position or an internship required for your tertiary studies.

Yes, finding a mentor in your future industry can give you the leg up you need for your career to take off 🚀

Why would someone give up their time to mentor me?

If someone is volunteering their time to mentor you, it’s because they are passionate enough about the field or area to want to lead the next generation. 

Usually someone looking for a mentor (the mentee) is eager enough to put themselves out there and so the mentoring experience should be rewarding for both parties.

Virtual Work Experience for high school students

I’m keen! How do I find a mentor in my industry?

Finding an official mentor can be as simple as reaching out and asking for guidance or advice. Of course, people are busy so don’t be offended if they cannot make time for you right away or politely turn you down.

Sometimes a mentor will ask you to pay them for their time. This is more likely if the potential mentor is self-employed or runs their own business. Time is money and they would be giving it up to help you level up your career.

The best place to start is likely official mentor programs designed to link you up with a mentor who has already volunteered their time to help the next generation 🧠

With our free virtual work experience we have some incredible industry mentors waiting to meet you - you just need to sign up, start doing the work and you will be connected with them. These mentors are real professionals from our partners, like Inland Rail, that know the value of putting out a hand to help young people succeed 🙌

How do I make the most of my mentor?

You get out what you put in, so arrive prepared.

Whether you are paying your mentor or not, show respect for the time they are giving you and come ready with thoughtful questions and things you would like help or guidance with.

Maybe you want to ask them questions about the industry or their career, or have them look at something you created and want feedback on. Go in with an agenda but be prepared to listen and take notes 🗒️

After meeting with your mentor you will likely walk away with some action points. Make sure you do the work before your next meeting so you are not wasting their time. If you hit roadblocks along the way, well, that’s something you can talk through with them at your next catch up.

Whether you’re taking the first step after high school or trying to level up to become a CEO of a big company, having a mentor is hugely beneficial to advancing your career. We truly believe the best way to start your career is trial and error – get out there, get experience and get advice from real professionals. We offer heaps of different virtual work experiences that could be your first step and will connect you with an industry mentor. They’re free, so you have nothing to lose

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