GNcareers, from Gulf News

Having a mentor can be a great career pick up

Having a mentor can be a great career pick upImage Credit: Supplied

When going through your career journey, what is needed is the right guidance that helps you avoid common pitfalls and keep you on the right track. That is where having a mentor can be the best thing for yourself and your professional development.

Mentorship allows one to develop a relationship with an experienced professional in your industry. Or one who is willing to invest the time and effort to keep you on target. To do so you will need to answer two crucial questions: How to select or find a mentor? And what kind of relationship and advice are you looking for?

The commitment of mentorship goes both ways. You may begin with wondering about whether the mentor will be there when needed or not. But in reality this relationship also needs relationship also needs you to stay in touch and seek guidance as you proceed the career. Here is how you can find answers to the two main questions of mentorship.

* Finding a mentor

Start at your own organisation, but don't end there. With many employers currently encouraging mentorships, you may find someone within your organisation who is willing to take up this responsibility and lead you towards professional development. But while this person may be an easy choice, ask yourself if this is the right person and how far the guidance is employer-specific.

If you're looking for someone who can lead you to the best professional development opportunity, regardless to the employer, you need to widen your network. Look at the bigger industry picture and build your connections across different platforms. Join industry forums and networks to find the right person with the right experience and willing to share it with you. Make sure that this person is trustworthy as well.

Although your industry-experienced mentor may seem the obvious choice, if you're just looking for career advice, you may be seeking someone with professional development experience. This can be a veteran in any industry or a career coach. So think outside the box based on needs.

You may ask peers about their experiences with mentors and what worked, or didn't work, for them. The more research done upfront, easier it will be to know it when you find the right person to be the mentor.

* Type of advice

It is important to have clear goals of the career as well as the time you spend with the mentor. Although the mentor probably is getting some sort of gratification from the interaction, the relationship shouldn't be turned into a burden on either one. That is why the more specific and respectful you are of your mentor's time, better the advice you will get.

Establish clear expectations and methods for communication. Keep the relationship defined to ensure that you and the mentor are on the same track. The responsiveness and ability to communicate career goals clearly and take advice into consideration will enable the mentor to do the job expected. In other words, look for someone who remains by your side and helps you through the career. But it is important to not only have a mentor, but to put the advice into practice.

* Having and changing mentors

Your gratitude to one mentor doesn't mean a lifetime commitment. You can have more than one mentor or change mentors as you proceed with your career goals. The most important factor to keep in mind is to stick with your mentor — if you trust this person — even when some of the advice is difficult and unpopular.

If you only follow what is easy, you are not getting the benefit you are after. With your eyes on your end goals and your trust in this person, you should be able to swallow some of the tough days, knowing that the road to a great career is never straightforward.


* Have defined goals.

* Choose a mentor who inspires and guides.

* Be committed and willing to follow advice.

* Changing a mentor can be a choice if needed.

Find out about Mentoring Programs for Emirati talent in the UAE

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently a Seattle-based editor