Finding a Mentor at the Beginning of Your Career

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Careers | Culture

Finding a Mentor at the Beginning of Your Career

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

In today’s competitive landscape, a mentoring relationship can give you an edge that differentiates you from the pack. A mentor can help to shorten your learning curve, open your mind to new ideas, identify opportunities and advise on how to promote yourself. If you select a mentor early in your career, they can provide invaluable information on how to navigate a company and achieve your goals.

That’s exactly what happened to LaChelle, who works in college recruiting and diversity at UnitedHealth Group. Besides being a jewelry designer, problem solver and lover of engineering and science, she’s also a mentor. And at one time, she started off as a mentee herself:

“Mentorship can be a game changer”

When thinking about your career, mentorship can be a game changer. From growing your knowledge in a particular industry to receiving critical feedback on your professional blind spots, having mentors makes a difference. I know it has for me. Early in my career, I had the opportunity to be part of a pilot program for mentors/mentees. I had very little experience working within marketing and my mentor taught me the ins and outs of the organization. My co-worker, who was training me in, went on a personal medical leave, after only 6 weeks of being on the job. This made the mentor/mentee relationship vital for me to supplement my education in learning my role. 

Within less than a year, I was the only coordinator who reported into 2 teams, traveled and trained call center representatives on new program, and was part of a pilot team to process work through the department quickly. The investment of the organization in my skill set allowed me to establish a strong professional brand within the corporate community while creating a solid foundation for my professional development.

So now you may be asking “How do I find a Mentor?” Start with your department, career services office, or alumni association to see if they have a mentoring program. This is a great way to be a part of a structure program that will match you to someone in your field of study. Don’t forget about your network – family, friends, professors or organizations you belong to can be a good source for finding a mentor. Also be prepared to share your mentoring goals. What do you want to accomplish? Having specific questions and at least three goals can ensure you have a successful mentorship experience.

Don’t forget that you also have the opportunity to mentor experienced professionals while you start your career, it’s called reversed mentoring. As you grow your role, remember to take your turn to share your knowledge with mentees as they grow their career.

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