A study comparing mentored employees and non-mentored employees found that mentored employees received more promotions and higher compensation and felt a higher satisfaction in their career.
I still don't know how I found the courage to ask someone more experienced to take time out of their schedule to meet with me, answer questions, and knowledge share about career management and industry-related topics. However, every time I've asked someone to be a mentor, much to my relief, the person accepted and was flattered.
I've even found mentors as a result of difficult career experiences. For example, I had a former supervisor who corrected me for a mistake I made during the interview process on my second day of work. While it was a hard pill to swallow, I knew I would never make that mistake again. So, after she moved on to another company, I saw value in asking her to be my mentor. The rest is history, and after a yearlong relationship, I still consider her a mentor and she is one of the first people I call when I have good news to share or need advice.
A good mentor makes an impact on you, not only offering support but also by helping you get in the mindset of continually evolving. Here are a few things I received from my mentoring relationships:
Accountability. There is something about reporting to a person you respect about your career aspirations. Sure, you report to your supervisor about action items and progress on work-related items, but there is nothing more rewarding than working on your personal career goals and knowing that your mentor is going to hold you accountable. You will try your best not to procrastinate or let them down.
Connection. Networking has its perks, but the strongest and most beneficial connection in my opinion is that of a mentor. When applying for opportunities like committees, scholarships, and jobs, often references and letters of recommendation are required. One of the things that has set me apart during the application process is a strong letter of recommendation from a mentor. Most people submit a letter from their supervisor. but adding an additional letter from a mentor that believes in you, as well as knows your work and aspirations, can help you stand out. A good mentor will use input from meetups to put together a sincere and personalized letter that would move any reader.
Mutual benefit. At first, I was concerned that I was an inconvenience to my mentor, but I quickly realized that my mindset was completely wrong. Meetups can easily become opportunities for idea sharing and strategy sessions where both parties can benefit. My mentor made me feel valued and picked my brain on different areas that I specialize in. The young professional perspective is valued now that millennials and Gen Z are growing in the workforce and associations. So just know that you are not the only one benefiting.
Sounding board. Processes, systems, and timelines are my thing, but creative and strategic thinking not so much. I've been upfront with my mentors about my weaknesses, and although I didn't wake up the next day and see a creative light, I did get ideas on how to get creative inspiration, resources, and utilize volunteers and subject-matter experts depending what the need is.
To evolve during your mentoring experience, be honest and upfront about what you lack. And remember this: You don't have to impress your mentor; they already believe in you.
Lauren Harley is assistant director of education and certification at MCI USA in McLean, Virginia.
This article was republished with permission and originally appeared at American Society of Association Executives.