A mentor is someone you can ask questions so that you can accomplish your goals. They are a sounding board for your ideas so that you can feel more confident about the direction you are going to reach your goals. It’s not the mentor’s job to tell you what to do or how to do it, but to provide guidance so that you can go down your own path. The mentor should shine a light down the path, and not carry you. Usually these goals are related to furthering your career, but they can also be more specific as well.
There are many ways to be mentored. You don’t have to use only one technique at a time either. Below are a few of the techniques that I have used in the past.
- Blogs and Forums: With the internet you can ask anything that comes to mind and there are endless answers to those questions…But which is the correct answer for you? This is a great avenue to find answers quickly, or in the middle of the night, but I don’t think this your only way to achieve your goals. Why? The internet doesn’t ask YOU questions. The internet doesn’t remind you that you are straying away from your goals. The internet won’t congratulate you when you achieve your milestones. The internet IS a great place to do research so that you figure out what goals you want to achieve.
- Teams: Another method that I have used is the team approach. I gathered several others who had similar goals so that we could share our ideas. This is a great way to hear several ideas at one time. The others in the group might ask questions you hadn’t thought of as well. I tried this technique when I was an artist. I gathered several other artists together and we met once a month to share ideas on how to sell our art. We all worked with different mediums and our ideas on how to sell and even display our art was as diverse as the mediums we worked with. The only drawback was we were all at the same place in our careers. Sometimes we didn’t have ideas on how to get to the next level, because none of us had been there. I see the SQL PASS User Groups fulfilling this type of mentorship in my life today. I found this technique very rewarding, because as I received help, I was also helping others.
- One on One: The traditional way, is having a one on one relationship with someone. It doesn’t have to be a long-term relationship. It can be just a couple of weeks, a couple of months, or a life time. My first mentor was a colleague at my first job out of college. We were both MCTs. He was a great speaker and programmer, and I was very shy. We would meet for lunch every two weeks and I would ask him questions on how to present better and how to be more assertive. We would discuss my questions and set goals for our next discussion. Today, 18 years later, we are working at our 4th company together.
If you live in a remote area, don’t think you can’t have a mentor. You can be mentored through email, Skype, Webex, and half a dozen other formats. The important part is to have a set of goals and commitment from both sides to work towards those goals.
How Do You Know If You Need A Mentor?
- If you know where you want your career to go, but you’re not sure of how to get there, you may need a mentor.
- If you have too many goals and don’t know how to prioritize them, you may need a mentor.
- If you are reading this article, you may need a mentor…OR you may need to BE a mentor.
WANTED: Mentor For Mickey Stuewe
Yup, I’m looking for a mentor to help with my goals. Why? Because I’m a proactive person and I like to talk things through. I want to bounce ideas off of someone on topics to speak on at conferences like SQL Saturday and SQL PASS. I want to talk to someone about the different Microsoft Certifications and whether they will help me in my career. I need advice on how to obtain my “dream job”. I’m looking for someone who is encouraging and supportive. Are you interested?