One of the greatest challenges of my professional career has been to define what a mentor is. I hope that if you are struggling with this step or deciding whether or not the mentor that you currently have is a good mentor, then this short read will help.
A mentor to me is defined as being available, knowledgeable, and mimic-able.
- Are they available? If you try your mentor multiple times and they never seem to have the time for you, kick them to the curb. I personally believe that if your mentor is interested in your success and progress then they will make the time to talk to you. That being said, coming from the other side of being a mentor, we get busy. If you have an established mentor that isn’t responding to you, I would encourage you to give them a “love tap.” Gently remind them that yes you do know that they are busy but that you really would like their input. A true mentor will respond.
- Do they know their stuff? Your mentor should basically be where you want to be or has taken the path you are on. I find that many young professionals try many different people when they are first looking for a mentor and most of them are usually not in their field of interest. Your mentor not only serves as your adviser but can also serve as an advocate for you when you need that extra phone call to that admissions council member. They should have a solid knowledge base of their own profession and be relatively well respected. That being said, they don’t need to be famous to be a mentor.
- Would You Like to be their Mini Me? If your answer to this question is no, then keep it moving! By this I mean, that they not only should be respectable, but they should be good people too. At the end of the day, mentors shape who you are. My mentors are volunteers, true physician servants who also happen to be bosses in their field. I hope to one day be like them. They are the reason why I am in medicine today and why I created this blog post. As a final note, your mentor does not need to look like you(race, gender etc). Some of my strongest mentors and advocates have been from other races and gender. I’ve realized the hard way, that just because you think they would be interested in helping you, doesn’t mean that they will.
On your search for a mentor, use my 3 questions as a starting point!
I will be blogging more in the future on this topic. Please let me know what you think and what a being a mentor means to you!
Goodbye for Now,