The Job Loss Survival Guide (part 11) suggests finding or being a mentor. Here is some really good, practical information you can use.
By Jessica C. Kraft, San Francisco, California
Who would Luke Skywalker be without Obi-Wan Kenobi? How could Plato have developed his philosophy without the forceful questioning of Socrates? These days Diana Ross offers her expertise to Beyonce, Alicia Keys and contestants on American Idol. Throughout the ages, mentoring relationships have been a powerful force for character and career development, for both mentor and protege. A good mentor can propel you toward success much faster than if you're on a solo quest. Mentors can give guidance in areas outside of their profession—in fact, much mentoring is aimed at helping you achieve personal and professional balance, and mentors often assist with making major life decisions that may not be career-related.
Whether you are starting a new business, rejoining the workforce after having a child or just beginning a new path in life, a mentor can help you go after your dream. So what's the secret to finding a mentor in your stage of life? And who makes a good one?
Identify Candidates.Once you've decided what you want the mentor to help you with, compile a list of candidates. Even if it has been a while since you graduated, your school's career counseling office is a good place to start. Successful alumni are often willing to give informational interviews, and some schools offer networking opportunities to alums.
Business associations and professional organizations also have broad networks of contacts. SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) will connect you, free of charge, with a small-business mentor anywhere in the United States. Look locally for individuals in your field and research their accomplishments.
Many companies offer formal mentoring programs. Research has shown that new hires who are paired with a mentor are twice as likely to remain in their jobs as those who aren't mentored. If your office doesn't have a program, you can seek out a workplace mentor on your own. Anyone in a leadership position whose work you admire is a good candidate.
Build a Relationship.What's the best way to propose a mentoring relationship? You might start by asking a prospective mentor for help on a specific project to see if you click first. Or you might feel comfortable discussing it right away. In any case, read everything you can about her—show her you know who she is and what she has done. Ask about her career path and current projects and get advice about your situation. It's a nice gesture to take her out for lunch or coffee. Send a thank-you note afterward. Contact her again to follow up on suggestions that you found helpful.
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