By: Jessica Li, Youth Council 2021/2022
If there is one thing I wish was emphasized to me during my university and graduate school career, it is the importance of mentorship, and how it can shape your career trajectory for the better. My immediate impression of mentorship was that you get paired with someone, usually a senior person in the industry you’re interested in pursuing. Once you have connected with them, you begin to meet with them on a regular basis to learn about their role, the industry, and get your burning questions answered. But once I delved into the world of mentorship, I realized there was so much more to offer. A side that rarely gets advertised on social media or in the education system is that mentorship is about building relationships and growing your professional network to support you in reaching your professional goals.
I know that for many students and new grads (myself included at one point), finding a mentor can seem like a daunting task or an intimidating endeavour. However, there are programs and professional associations in place in which you can sign up to be matched with a mentor whose career is closest aligned with your professional development goals. That would be the first place to look and to learn more about the value of mentorship. I also want to preface by saying that there is no pressure to stick with only one mentor. In fact, it is encouraged for you to seek multiple mentors at different career stages to help you navigate your career journey, and to grow in your insights and perspectives.
Once you have found a mentor, it is important to remember that what you get out of this mentorship is contingent upon what you invest in it. Establish goals with your mentor, how often you want to meet and come prepared for each session with questions and topics for discussion. Work with your mentor to identify challenges and opportunities, and most of all,
show up to sessions on time and ready to learn and ask questions!
A myth I want to address is the belief that mentorship is no longer necessary once you have landed a job. That is untrue because mentorship doesn’t equate to employment assistance - it is a life-long relationship that you continue to nurture and gain from. You will constantly foster new professional relationships and connections and seek advice and expertise from senior colleagues and managers. You might find that you might want to have a mentor for different areas of your life in addition to professional and career interests. Those areas could include financial empowerment, health & wellness, and life coaching.
And if you’re still not convinced on the benefits of mentorship, check out this article written by Forbes to see how mentorship positively impacts both the mentee and mentor, and read this piece by Indeed on the 10 reasons to get a mentor!