As I look back on my career, I find it readily apparent that mentoring has had an impact on me. Mentoring is important because it is a way to get honest, candid feedback without consequence. I value it from the perspective of someone who mentors others and as someone who has benefited from having a mentor.
In many instances, I am a representative sample of an underrepresented group, so the ability to relay my experiences becomes important and valued by others trying to achieve the same goals. It is important for them to know that if I could achieve a certain level of success, they could achieve the same and more. There is nothing more personally fulfilling for me than watching someone I have mentored grow and excel. The personal legacy I want to leave behind is that I made a contribution to the careers and opportunities of as many talented individuals as I possibly could.
I provide mentoring on both a formal and informal basis. Formally, there are individuals who ask me to mentor them, and I am happy to do so. Some use the relationship for navigation and career counseling, while others use it for image consultation and personal-effectiveness coaching. Informally, I am perpetually aware that others are watching, so role modeling is critical. I try to ensure that my daily behaviors are consistent with the advice I would give formally to any individual under my mentorship. I offer this advice to individuals just entering the workforce:
- Use your early tenure as the time to listen, watch and learn. Many of the lessons you will carry with you for the duration of your career come in the first few years, when you are learning and building credibility as a professional.
- Learn from good managers, and learn from bad ones. As you go on your career journey, take note of the things that motivated or demoralized, energized or deflated, and compelled or discouraged, and remember them when you become someone’s manager.
- Manage your own career. Corporations may provide the tools, but you must have a plan. Think about your career in three- to five-year intervals. Determine the experiences you need to accumulate to best prepare for your end goal, and then manage your career effectively to acquire those experiences.