Career Advice

Campus to Corporate, Part 7: Finding the right mentor and 6 benefits of mentorship

Partha Sarathi Basu
Partha Sarathi Basu
Posted on 31 Mar 2022
16:14 PM
Mentors can help broaden your knowledge base and your understanding of the corporate world.

Mentors can help broaden your knowledge base and your understanding of the corporate world. Shutterstock

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Summary
While it is important for the mentor to take the engagement seriously and provide you with right mentorship, the responsibility on you is also quite high
Commit to this mentor-mentee relationship and embrace it with all positivity; you have a lot to learn and gain

In my last column, we spoke about why you should and how you can start building your own brand. We concluded that through your brand, you can clearly communicate your beliefs, your priority and your purpose, without being a victim of others’ perception. For that, you need to be consistent in your approach and have a clear plan. However, it’s best to start slow since you have enough time in hand.

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Campus to Corporate, Part 6: Now is the time to start building your personal brand
Campus to Corporate, Part 6: Now is the time to start building your personal brand

Today we will look at how having a mentor in the early days of your career can be a differentiator for you.

Now, what do I mean by a mentor? To me, a mentor is a person who has enough experience to help and guide you to develop professionally and personally for you to be self-reliant. They can help broaden your knowledge base and your understanding of the corporate world. In a nutshell, this is someone who can help you become a better professional and individual.

Let me start by jotting down some benefits of having a mentor.

  1. You will have the ability to see the world through a new lens: You are new to the corporate world; you have many ideas and many notions. You have heard many stories, good or bad. But you never had the option to check what’s really true and what’s not. A mentor can help you share your thoughts and guide you to see the world from a different perspective. They can act as a filter to process your thoughts, which will make you less judgmental and more accepting. The interaction can make you a better professional.
  2. Your ability to communicate effectively increases: Remember you are new to the corporate world -- you may not be aware of certain ways of working, or certain ways of communication while you share your thoughts and ideas in a meeting. You will be challenged, you will be questioned. Bouncing ideas off your mentor will prepare you for such interactions, and will increase your ability to communicate effectively and confidently. You know you have someone experienced whom you trust to guide you. In an earlier article, I spoke about the benefit of asking the right question. A mentor can help you to sharpen that skill. It’s a safe place for you to practise and hone the skill of asking the right question.
  3. You will be self-aware: Most of us think we are self-aware, but we may not be. Having open in-depth discussions with a mentor on various topics will open up your horizon. You will be much more aware about your ability, your strengths as well as the areas you need to work on.
  4. You will open up to new possibilities: Mentors often help reshape our goals and show new possibilities. Many a time, they can show you ways in which you never thought of before. Your goals can be redefined with new information and guidance.
  5. You may learn through stories: I am sure your mentor will have a lot of stories to share. I am sure they have gone through situations or experiences that you have not faced yet. Learning from real-life stories from a person who has been there, done that can be really motivating and interesting.
  6. You may be able to develop a good network: The more you walk through corporate life, the more people you will get to know. Networking is an important element to be successful in corporate life. Since they have spent more time than you in the corporate world, they are likely to have a larger network than yours. And that might help you to connect with the right people.
Campus to Corporate, Part 5: Ask the right questions to develop critical thinking
Campus to Corporate, Part 5: Ask the right questions to develop critical thinking

Now that you know how a mentor can help you in your professional journey, you might be wondering how to find the right mentor. Who can be that person for you? It is indeed a great question to think about.

It is not that you need to find the ‘best person’ that you have in mind, or someone you idolise. That may be far-fetched. I would suggest you to apply the following filters while you choose your mentor. Keep it simple.

  1. Someone who has similar values: It is important that you find someone who you think shares the values that you have. Following him or her for a few days in office or on social media will give you a fair idea about what the person stands for. You can also speak to a few people who know him or her well. That should not be very difficult.
  2. Someone who has achieved what you want to achieve: For instance, you want to be the CIO (Chief Information Officer) of an organisation; then you may choose someone who is a CIO or is on the way to becoming a CIO. In that way, the stories they will share with you about their journey may resonate well with you. However, it’s not absolutely necessary. A person from a very different field may also be a great mentor.
  3. Someone you can trust and relate to: It’s very important that you both can trust and relate to each other, and as they say, you should have chemistry. A person whom you do not like to interact with or vice versa can’t act as your mentor. So, it is important that you follow them and meet them before deciding. And that is applicable to both sides. The mentor also needs to like you.
  4. Someone who will care for you and will give you time: It is important to find a mentor who will give you time and will care for your progress versus finding someone just for the sake of it. You will realise that in a few days. If you find it otherwise, do consider ending the mentor-mentee relationship and move on.

At the end, I would like to state that while it is important for the mentor to take the engagement seriously and provide you with the right mentorship, the responsibility on you is also quite high. Commit to this mentor-mentee relationship and embrace it with all positivity.

You have a lot to learn and gain.

As John C. Maxwell said: “One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and help them navigate a course to their destination.”

In the next article, I will share a few tips on the power of storytelling.

Partha Sarathi Basu has worked in leadership positions at Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, IFB group, Tata group, Spicejet and AkzoNobel. He is currently associated with a leading consulting firm apart from being a leadership coach. He is the author of five books based on his corporate and life experiences. A die-hard Calcuttan, he now lives in Amsterdam.

Campus to Corporate, Part 5: Ask the right questions to develop critical thinking
Campus to Corporate, Part 5: Ask the right questions to develop critical thinking
Last updated on 31 Mar 2022
16:14 PM
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