Do you have a mentor? According to the Oxford Dictionary, a mentor is defined as someone who is a trusted advisor. Who is that person for you? When things get tough, who is your go-to person or people? I hope you can say you have someone.
It is important to have people in your corner when things get tough. The recruiting process is confusing and difficult to navigate, but, even if you are not dealing with the recruiting process, having someone who is there for you when you need something is really important.
There will always be something that challenges you enough to make you want to seek another opinion. Whether you’re looking for advice on something, help with a connection you are trying to make, assistance with a financial situation or just someone to be a sounding board, a mentor is the perfect solution.
How would you answer these questions?
If the same person comes to mind when answering these questions, then you may have found your mentor. If you have one now, that does not mean you can’t add another to the list later.
If the same person did not come to mind when answering these questions, then either you have more than one mentor, or you have not found one yet. If you have multiple ones, good for you. If you have not found one yet, it is not too late.
Here are some tips to help you find your mentor:
Many people assume their mentor is a parent, and, most of the time, parents or guardians are trusted advisors. After all, you know them the best. But sometimes parents are not as honest with you as they could be because they love you too much.
Other students might pick a teacher or a coach to be their mentor. Like parents, these are people you know fairly well and who know you. Therefore, they are also logical choices.
However, before assuming, check out our list of some of the things you should know about the person you choose as a mentor:
There are basically five characteristics you should look for when choosing a mentor.
Parents, teachers or coaches may assume they are your mentors because of their association with you. You are the daughter, student or player of these folks. But they can only truly be a mentor if they have a genuine interest in helping you succeed.
Do they seem like they care? Do they show interest beyond a surface interest? Will they dive in with you on something you are passionate about?
A good mentor is someone who observes your talent and can help network you to the next steps of your career, including your college choice. Is the person you envision as your mentor able to help you network with people that will help your future, your current job or your career?
Great mentors are also great communicators with an emphasis on the listening part of good communication. You want someone who will listen without judgement and hear your passion. They’ll communicate honestly back to you on things that you both can do to direct your next moves. They’ll give honest feedback and advice when you have questions.
A good mentor is willing to sacrifice time and sometimes money to help you accomplish your next step. You may need extra coaching to acquire a skill that you are lacking in. You may need help applying to certain educational programs. You might need financial aid to further this dream. Will your mentor be there?
Lastly, a mentor will try to understand your purpose for pursuing the dream you seek. If he or she knows your purpose, it is easier to help you achieve your goals. If your mentor asks questions to help understand what you are really trying to achieve, then you probably have a good one.
When you feel you have found the person or people that you call mentors, let them know. Even if it is your parents, you can let them know what your passions are and then talk with them about your next moves. This is a way to begin building your mentors.
Part of this conversation is to be honest about your needs. Let them know what you are trying to accomplish and let them see your passion.
If you only have one conversation with your mentor, your passions and desires will fade from his or her memory. However, if you stay in touch and keep your dreams in front of your mentor, the passions and desires stay fresh. This may mean frequent conversations with the person. When things change, your mentor needs to know the changes. Some may shrug at having to converse so much with parents or other adults, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
If you choose someone who is not a parent or guardian, then phone calls or in person meetings with the person may be relevant. For example, if your grandparents are your mentors, visiting and having conversations with them over lunch or dinner may be helpful.
If the mentor is your coach, then keeping the coach up to date with your intentions for college may be helpful. When he or she is talking to college coaches, the information passed along is accurate.
It is possible to pick the wrong person as a mentor. Here are a few signs to watch out for:
If the person you choose is always too busy to spend time with you, then they may not be the best choice as a mentor. If the person has excuses why he or she can’t meet with you or take your call, they may be too busy to help you. If your mentor is talking to you but not really listening to you, that is another sign that this person does not have the time for you.
If the person you choose talks a lot about themselves and less about you, you may not want this person to help you. If the person always brings the conversation back to him or herself, that’s a sign they probably won’t be attentive enough to hear you and help you. If the person, when talking to you, whines about all the work that he or she has to do, or that a pile of other obligations is awaiting them, this person probably is not the best choice as a mentor.
Another sign that you may have the wrong person as a mentor is that, whenever you talk about your dreams, desires and next goals, the person assumes you won’t be able to get there, or he or she thinks you are in over your head or tries to discourage you from going after your goals. People that assume things for you are probably not the best choice if you are trying to find support, encouragement and assistance in reaching your dreams.
If you already have a mentor, congratulations to you. It pays to have that person in your corner when life throws punches at you. If you have not yet found that person, no need to worry. Be on the lookout for all the possibilities that are out there. Here are a few other potential people:
Going through life alone is a struggle. When you can find a person, or people, who takes an interest in what you are trying to accomplish in your high school, community, college choice, profession and life journey, it is much more fun, and the chances of you succeeding are even greater.
When you have found them, don’t forget to thank them.
A group of teammates talk about how being an athlete empowered them for life beyond sports.