4 October 2013

The power of mentors

Mentors are invaluable.

They can offer you different perspectives, critical analysis, and invaluable, practical advice based on their years of industry and life experience. So far, I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit from the wisdom of three mentors. All have had experiences in different areas and vocations, which has been great for harnessing diverse opinions and ideas. For example, my current mentor is an amazing woman in her 50s. She works for a publishing company and is an expert on career development for women. With my own background being science-based, she’s intimated knowledge I would not normally have access to.

In a way, a mentor fills in the gaps that a university course can’t. While an academic approach might focus on the best way to do things, a mentor can help you when you’ve applied best practice and it hasn’t worked. The relationship is informal and far more personable, and far more specific to each person and situation. The key to it all is this: you need to be open to drawing on the expertise of older people. You need to be open to the possibilities and be aware of what they can offer. Most importantly, you need to be motivated to act on what they tell you. You’ve got to be willing to change for any relationship to succeed.

Linking up with the right mentor is also critical. I think the basic premise needs to be someone who’s more experienced in a particular area and who’s extremely passionate about passing on their knowledge to someone ready and eager to learn. Of course, they also need to feel they’re benefiting in some way from the association. This could be as simple as the satisfaction gained from passing on their expertise and wisdom.

As a Master of Management student approaching the end of my course, I feel my mentoring relationships have definitely given me an edge, particularly around the process of transitioning from uni to work. Next year I commence a graduate program at Deloitte, which I’m really excited about. Thanks to all the amazing advice and guidance I’ve received, I feel extremely ready to take this next big step in my career.

Author: Lucia Robson, current Master of Management student at the University of Sydney Business School

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