Fresh graduates in the house, are you ready to take the leap into the colorful world of employment? Unlike learning to ride a bike, there are no training wheels for your new environment. The closest thing you have to a safety blanket is a reliable guide who can push you the way you need to be pushed - a mentor.
During a five-day immersion program in the Philippines as part of the 2014 Filipino-American Youth Leadership Program (FYLPro) of the Philippine Embassy in the United States, Filipino American Rommel Clemente, a Supervising Senior Associate for the Connor Group, advised young Filipinos to find a mentor who can help them with their careers and guide them. “Throughout my career, there was always that one person that has my back, one person to learn from, It’s important to grow your mentor network,” Rommel said.
If you are planning to follow Rommel’s advice, Art Markman, a professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin and Founding Director of the Program in the Human Dimensions of Organizations, is here to help. In this article, Markman discusses the key people that can be part of your mentor network, or looking at the bigger picture, people who can be part of an inspiring and supportive life-long "barkada." With their experience and wisdom, these mentors can help enhance your development and growth as you wade the waters of work life.
It might seem challenging to have to look for a job and a mentor all at once after graduation, but think of the mentor as an investment in your career. It's easy to get lost and confused for the first few years of your work life - having a mentor will ensure that you won't waste time exploring dead-ends or making obvious mistakes.
Markman says to be on the lookout for the following mentors to tap:
Having trouble finding your way around the first few months? Facing a fresh set of challenging and persistent problems? Go talk to the coach. The coach will do a different type of hand-holding to the mentoree through being there for you as you think your way out of a trying situation. The coach acts just like your college counselor – hearing your sentiments and serving as a guide to get to the root cause of the issue - think Yoda or Obi-wan Kenobi. Welcome the suggested solutions they offer as well as new or unique perspectives they can share about the problem encountered. You’ll be equipped with the additional know-how and point of view that can help when adversity hits.
Nope, this does not mean sending a message to your favorite celebrity crush detailing your career conundrums. The star is the type of mentor who is living the career you are aspiring for. Be observant of how they go about their business, such as the activities they do on a daily basis and how they liaise or engage with their network. Occasionally, the mentoree can pick the star’s brains on factors that propelled them to their success.
It pays to be connected to people inside and outside of the company who seem to have contacts in various places, especially if you're a fresh graduate. The connectors can be considered your walking social networks who can act as your bridge to become acquainted with new people in diverse industries and organizations.
These people are storehouses of information and knowledge, making them a good resource in completing an a task. Being friends with them can help increase your competence as well as your working expertise as you start your stint in the company.
Had a bad day at work? The teammate – a good and trusted one, at that – will exhibit the skill known as “listening", act as an "encourager", and remind you that things are not as bad as they appear even if you flubbed the product presentation or got chewed out by an irate client. Think of the teammate as a close college friend who knows better.
Looking for a mentor is just like looking for a job - you have to find a good fit for both parties. Start by seeking out people you admire and mentors recommended by people you trust. If they're open to taking the time to speak with you, most likely it means they have good mentor potential.
Excited about the benefits of finding mentors? Which mentor-type do you look forward to having? Share your comments below. Mentors can be a great merit to have and will welcome the instrumental role they will play in watching you grow as a result of their support. Fresh graduates, find your mentors today for a potentially bright tomorrow!