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Why You Need A Mentor


Boom - exams are over.

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” - Isaac Newton

I have always had the feeling that students and young professionals are reluctant to seek to seek out a mentor.


  • Maybe it’s the awkwardness of having someone ‘mentor’ you

  • Perhaps it’s the fear of being seen as being unable to succeed on your own, or

  • Maybe it’s just that you don’t know where to start, or where to find a mentor that’s right for you.


Well let’s try to squash these fears one by one:

1. Having a mentor is awkward


It’s a common mistake for people to regard having a mentor as an official or binding relationship with strict rules. It is not.


At its core, a mentor is someone who can help you to achieve your goals. You are in no way obligated to stick with them if you do not feel comfortable or that you’re getting what you want out of it. The real trick is finding someone who you click with so well that you’ll actually be making time in your schedule to get access to them.


Unlike your parents and your friends, a mentor is a source of valuable knowledge and will give you honest advice to set you on the right path. Whilst this advice may not always be so pleasant to hear now, it is far better than hearing it slowly over your next few years in the form of rejected job applications.


2. Fear of being unable to succeed on your own


Having seen many successful candidates pass through the top employers in Australia and across the world, it is clear to me that landing a role is largely a reflection of three things:

  1. Knowledge

  2. Effort

  3. Luck


Knowledge

This is a part where a mentor is most valuable. You can read online news articles, textbooks and blogs until the lights go out… but this can never replace real life experience. This is the value an industry professional can provide… living breathing insights into how things are on the ground.


Effort

This is largely the responsibility of the individual, not the mentor. Even with Steve Jobs as a mentor to help you build a successful tech business, if you are lazy and don’t hustle… you won’t make it. This effort comes in the form of preparation, research, learning, performing volunteer and professional roles to get the right experience and creating opportunities (not waiting for them).


Mentors and role models can’t hustle for you, but they can motivate and encourage you to get started (and more challengingly… stick with it).


Luck

A little bit of luck always helps with landing a job. This might simply be having a friend who works in the team you’re applying for, or having the hiring manager be an alumni of your high school or student organisation, or simply not being held up by public transport delays on your way to the interview.


Mentors will give advice on how to best position yourself to foster and make the most of these fortunate circumstances… but in terms of creating luck… it goes as the old saying:


“Good luck is when preparation meets opportunity” - Eliyahu Goldratt

3. Don’t know where to start


You’re ideal mentor is unlikely to be sitting at the university cafeteria, or in the classrooms you work in, or a colleague at your part-time workplace. You’ve got to find them and hack your way into their network.


See our Guide on professional networking for tips on how and where you can build the right contacts. Also see our earlier post on Becoming a Career Fairs Ninja which includes advice that can be used in many other networking opportunities.


All the best for applications and subscribe up as we will be sharing more soon.