By engaging with a Mentor, you are taking a big step forward in your career and personal development, and you are to be commended. As a wise person once said, “If you are doing what everyone else is doing, then you are lazy.” Engaging with a mentor is not something everyone else is doing! Although this is to be taken seriously, you are encouraged to have fun and work to create a friendship with your mentor that will help you throughout the upcoming career adventures.
One thing you should understand is that most people are willing to help young professionals, but they are not usually going to come forward and put their hand on your shoulder and say, ‘Young lady or young man, how can I help you in your life or your career?’ You need to proactively go out and ask for assistance and that is not always an easy thing to do.
Consider having several mentors in your life for different areas such as financial, professional/career, spiritual, and personal. Having the power of experience and knowledge that you do not currently possess can catapult your life in all these areas.
Vision Source has developed a mechanism to help with this in our Mentor/Mentee program. On the Vision Source NEXT website, you can update your profile and note if you are interested in having a Mentor. Then you can search for OD’s (Find Mentors) who are volunteering to become mentors and you can reach out to them about the possibility of mentoring you.
There are several factors that you should consider before requesting a mentor.
What is expected of a Mentee?
Having a mentor should not be a huge time commitment. However, depending on your mentor and the guidelines and expectations you both establish there may be tasks or activities your mentor suggests, so be ready for that. A few things to consider:
Why have a Mentor?
- You should be committed – Mentors are giving their time to assist you, so commit to participating
- Be honest – The more honest you are, the more benefit that will come from a mentor
- Ask questions – A huge benefit with a mentor is that they can answer real world questions that your instructors may not be able to give you
- Follow through – If your mentor suggests you do something, do it. Show them you are committed to helping yourself and respectful of their advice/suggestions
Below are some of the benefits of having a mentor. Some of these are obvious, but some you may not have thought about previously.
What is my responsibility in this?
- They have been there and done that – already gone through what you are embarking on. They have made mistakes that you don’t have to make
- They are an unbiased third party – can provide straightforward advice without history and bias
- They have a completely different network – have access you do not have which can open doors
- It’s great free advice – aren’t charging and are volunteering to help move your career forward
- You are more likely to succeed – over 80% of CEO’s had mentors early in their careers
- They will push you to learn – can/will recommend reading material and things to investigate
- Will save you a lot of money – can guide you through decisions &trials can save you time and money
- Help you make right choices – can better assess situations from a different perspective to keep you on the right track
As you embark on this relationship, in order to get the most out of it and to help your mentor provide the most advantageous input there are some items below that you may consider to get the most out of it for both of you.
- Be easy to mentor – be reliable, be open, be receptive and participate
- Take the lead – this is primarily about you & your development, so know or think about goals you want to accomplish
- Have specific reasons for a mentor – communicate what you realistically want from the relationship
- Be prepared – have an agenda for each meeting and know what you would like to accomplish
- Follow through on advice – if your mentor gives you something to try, try it. If you disagree with it, then voice why and have a conversation about it. Not following through a few times, and your mentor may hesitate in giving you advice in the future.
- Be open to feedback – your mentor is there to help you. It would be a disservice to you if they didn’t provide honest and sometimes critical feedback. It will not be done to offend/hurt your feelings, so be receptive to the things your mentor may share with you. Meet on the mentor’s terms – be willing to meet at their office or place of their preference if you are in the same city. If not, be willing to video chat or have a phone call when convenient for your mentor. The easier it is for them, the more often they will be willing to meet.
- Show respect, be on-time – being on time shows that you are serious about this. Your mentor’s time is important, and they are volunteering, so being prompt or early for your meetings will be appreciated
- Make this a 2-way street - both parties should get something out of this relationship. It should not be all on the mentor to give. Look for articles or people your mentor might be interested in. Look for opportunities to introduce them to people who may be interested in them or vice versa. Show interest in them personally.
- Say Thank You – in today’s world most people don’t send Thank You notes. People who write hand-written notes make positive impressions.
Vision Source hopes that this program will help you get much farther ahead in a shorter time frame than you might be without a mentor relationship. Additionally, you will get a good look into the private practice profession and the many benefits and advantages associated with a career in private practice optometry.
There are hundreds of Vision Source member ODs who have volunteered to Mentor, so visit VisionSourceNEXT.com
to find one today.