A mentor is someone who gives you advice about life and work. They are usually older than you. You can have a mentor through a formal mentoring program. You can also have an informal mentor, who is someone you already know.
Mentors share their life and work experience to help you make important decisions.
What a mentor can do for you
A mentor can give you:
- advice based on their experience
- tips for increasing your skills
- information about an industry or job
- encouragement and support to pursue or create opportunities
- someone to bounce ideas off.
You don't have to follow the same job path as your mentor. But it can be useful to find out what they did, why they did it and what the results were of taking this path.
How to work with a mentor
When you ask someone to be your mentor, tell them clearly what you hope to get from the relationship.
You should discuss the type of relationship you will have with your mentor. Topics you can cover include:
- how often you’ll meet
- where you’ll meet, and for how long
- what your mentor expects from you
- what you expect from your mentor
- rules for getting in contact with each other – for example, you might want to be contacted by email and not phone
- how you’ll end the arrangement when one of you decides to stop.
Mentoring relationships can be done regularly in person. Or you can just catch up on the phone or via the web once in a while for a casual chat.
How to find an informal mentor
Your mentor should be someone you respect and can learn from. It could be:
- a person at your work
- a teacher or lecturer
- someone you know through friends or family.
You can also approach someone you don't know and ask them to be your mentor.
The most important thing is to find someone who:
- you trust to give you good advice
- will respect your privacy
- will listen to you
- will support and encourage you.
It’s best not to choose your boss as a mentor. You could find it hard to be honest about your feelings. You should find a neutral mentor who can listen and provide unbiased advice.
A mentor doesn't have to be in the same job or even the same industry as you. You might choose someone who has experience and knowledge of a particular area or skill, such as time management or communication skills.
How to find a formal mentoring program
You can find a mentor through a formal mentoring program. Find out if your school, university or TAFE has a mentoring program. You can also visit these websites:
This website lets you find a local mentoring program near you. You can contact any of the programs directly to ask about finding a mentor.
If you’re looking for a small business mentor, you can contact your local Small Business Centre.