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Mentoring: Its importance and how to effectively make use of it

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In the last months, I read a lot about career success and I reflected about careers in my social network. Overall, I got the impression that a crucial factor is to have a mentor – that empowers you to achieve your self-set career goals, at best without personal interest in affecting your decisions and actions in a specific way. And it seems that I’m not the only one who believes this: For example, Sarah Blackford recently posted an article about mentoring. In this article, she reflects on the questions “what makes a good mentor?” and “how should a mentee choose their mentor?”. Also, the Science career magazine provides “Top 10 Tips to Maximize Your Mentoring“.

Here are my 3 key lessons from reading these articles:

1) Be clear about your goals

Before search for a mentor, become clear about your career goals! This is a crucial pre-condition for finding the right mentor – the one that can give you most relevant advice on how to achieve your goals. For example, if you aim at change your job, try to find someone working already in the field of work you are aiming at.

2) Clarify mutual expectations

Start your mentorship with clarifying your mutual expectations! Tell the mentor your goals and in which way you believe your mentor could support you achieving them. Discuss how frequently and where you will meet. Ask whether and how you can reach the mentor in urgent cases. Try to find the agreements which fit best for both of you.

3) Take the relationship to your mentor seriously

Respect that your mentor – a very experienced and likely busy person – invests time and well-intentioned input in you. Make the most of it by being prepared, listening attentively, and taking all feedback seriously! You don’t need to follow every advice; But you should tell how you make use of the advice and why you don’t follow in single cases. Being open and honest are the foundations of a constructive relationship.

Further tips and information you find in the cited articles. If you need more specific support, make an appointment with me!

Author: Katrin Wodzicki

Hi, I am Katrin, the coordinator of the GGNB Career Service Unit.

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