an experienced and trusted adviser.
advise or train (someone, especially a younger colleague)
In the purest sense of the word, a mentor is someone who advises others. It comes from the Greek “Mentōr,” the name of the adviser of Telemachus in Homer’s Odyssey.
I think every woman should have a mentor.
A mentor can have an incredibly positive impact on your life, even from any early age. Parents and grandparents are typically our first mentors. For some of us, a particularly dedicated teacher, professor, or guidance counselor probably filled the role later on. Think about when you were in high school or college. Did you have a role model to guide you and offer advice?
But women who mentor come in many other forms – family, friends, work acquaintances, neighbors, and on and on. Really, anyone can be a mentor to you. It’s about finding a person that you connect with and admire – and someone who is willing and able to put in the time to connect with you. You may already have a mentor in your life and not even realize it!
What can a mentor do for you?
A 2014 Huffington Post blog describes the benefits of having a mentor this way: “Successful women are fully aware of the importance of having someone who recognizes their potential, who cares about their career and who guides them through the twists, turns and pitfalls that come with reaching great heights.”
And according to a now dated, but still relevant, Harvard Business Review survey, “Executives who have had a mentor are on the average better educated, receive higher compensation and express greater satisfaction with their work than their peers who have not had a mentor.”
How do you find a mentor?
I find – and the Huffington Post agrees with me – that women benefit most from being mentored by other women. As they put it, women who mentor “are able to relate to and are better equipped to guide women through their particular challenges.” On top of that, I know that as a woman, I feel more comfortable and empowered around other women, as opposed to men.
If you already have a female mentor in mind, great! Don’t be shy about approaching her. You don’t have to lay it out all at once; simply ask her if you can schedule time over coffee or lunch to get some advice, then let the relationship evolve naturally.
If a mentor doesn’t immediately come to mind, you may need to look outside your current network and meet new people. Consider professional organizations, events, and meet-up groups. Search for these opportunities on social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.
Just remember that professional commonalities alone do not a good mentor make. You also want to make sure the woman you choose is enthusiastic about helping you to grow professionally and personally. She should be someone you can trust and bounce ideas off of. In the end, the mentor-mentee relationship should be beneficial to both of you.
What has your experience been with women who mentor? How has a mentor affected your life?