Mentors can be a huge part of a young professional’s early career. Certainly, I never would have made it to where I am without the mentorship of some patient people who have taken me under their wing at key times in my life. Below are the 5 types of mentors that I’ve had, and how they can be most and least helpful.
This one is probably the most obvious. The Teacher is someone who literally takes the time to instruct you on the basics and the “ins-and-outs” of your industry. In many cases, but not all, this person is an actual teacher or college professor, and is probably the most useful type of mentor for those who are just starting out on their new career path.
If you are a certain type of person, this type of mentor can be your biggest asset. The Parent, while probably not your actual mother or father (unless you’re following in the family business), is the mentor who looks after you as a person, not just as a professional. This is the person who can keep you grounded and remind you of life outside of the job. This might also be the person you’re most comfortable with when asking small or “silly” questions because you’re probably less afraid of judgement or disappointment from them.
Personally, this is the mentor that I find most helpful. This person is likely your actual boss or supervisor, and is in charge of giving you certain responsibilities. The Boss will often start off with small tasks, making sure that you actually are a competent professional, before moving on to more important, complicated matters. Often, you’ll find the Boss inviting you to meetings or to help with projects you might not have expected to get into when you first started, and eventually you may find you’re doing the job yourself!
THE WISE OLD MAN
This person may not have a formal role in your professional life, but is someone who has been through a career field and has a different perspective than the people you work with on a day-to-day basis. Having someone that you can speak openly with, who can give you advice, and who looks at things from a different angle can be a crucial advantage, and keep you from getting stuck in the same old way of doing things.
This might be a person who is above you on the career ladder, that may NOT take you under their wing, but serves as an example of how you would (or wouldn’t!) do things once you reach their level. Keeping an eye on how people at the top do things can be just as helpful as formal mentorships in some fields and not having a personal connection may allow you to be a little more critical in your view of them. What are they doing that you aren’t, that makes them better, faster, or more productive?
These are just the types of mentors that I’ve had in my career so far. Certainly there are more than just five different mentor types! What types of mentors have you had, and how have they helped make you the young professional you are?
Jeff Short recently took over as Chief of Staff for Assemblywoman Beth Gaines after serving as her Field Representative and District Director since 2011. He and his family live in Roseville, where he also serves on the city’s Transportation Commission and on the Leadership Council for Ignite Young Professionals.