Finding a mentor you mesh well with and want to model your career after isn’t necessarily easy. A lot of these well-established professionals simply don’t have the time to commit to mentoring you. But, you can still get some of the great career benefits of a mentor without actually having one! Try these 5 things.
1. Inspirational Autobiographies: Although you may not be able to find an autobiography from someone who has the career you’d like, you can find inspiration in biographies from professionals of all different fields. You can see how they overcame challenges, addressed mistakes, and embraced failure through reading their life stories and this inspiration may be enough to help you successfully navigate your own career.
2. Mini Mentor Sessions: Being a mentor can sound like a daunting proposition because it could potentially take up a lot of time. However, if you’ve found someone you’d like to be your mentor, ask them for a few mini 10-20 minute walking breaks when you can ask them questions or offer to pay for their lunch in exchange for picking their brain. It’s not about the quantity of time they can dedicate but rather the quality of their advice and connections that can help you propel your career forward.
3. Shadow a Busy Professional: If there’s someone at your company whose career you would love to emulate but they’re far too busy to be your mentor, ask if you can shadow them occasionally just to see what their days and workload is like. You’ll learn a lot from observing and you can take up far less of their time this way.
4. Expand Your Professional Network: Maybe you haven’t been able to find a mentor or you feel like you need one because your professional network isn’t large enough. A lot of people find that having a well-maintained, expansive professional network is just as effective as having a mentor because you can ask several professionals on your level and a few in positions you want to be in some day for advice and opinions rather than just relying on one perspective like you might with a mentor.
5. Attend Career Counseling: This approach isn’t for everyone but it does work. Did you know that there are counselors that specialize in careers? That’s right, you can attend career counseling just as easily as marriage counseling and, if you feel like you want that extra help and guidance, this may be a great way to get it if you can’t find a dedicated mentor. While this option will cost you money, it will save you from feeling like you’re taking up too much of your boss’ or coworkers’ time with your career quandaries and woes.
Mentors can provide a guiding hand that will help you keep your career on track and escalate it in the right way but a lot of professionals at the top of their game simply don’t have time to be your mentor. But that’s okay! Do these 5 things and you’ll feel like you get all of the career benefits of having a mentor without actually having one.