Having a mentor to help you grow your career is not a dated concept, despite the fact that its first English usage came in 1765. The bottom line is that having a mentor or “job pal” to help you with your career is essential, especially these days when there’s more competition than ever for existing jobs. It takes time to find the right person, so you want to use their expertise wisely. Before you sit down with your mentor, it’s important that you:
1. Know what you want. Your mentor can only help you if you know what you want. Yes, this person can sometimes give you ideas and steer you in another direction. But to do that, your mentor must know what you want to do in your life/work. Be ready to articulate this clearly and concisely.
2. How were you planning to get there? What skills or attributes do you have that you believe will get you to where you want to go? Again, be ready to discuss these things beyond what’s on your resume.
3. What do you see as your roadblocks? Why do you need help getting to where you want to go? This can be due to a lack of skills, lack of contacts, etc. Again, be ready to speak directly and unflinchingly about your career roadblocks. Don’t obfuscate or avoid this part.
4. Long-terms goals? Is what you want a long-term or short-term goal? This is important to share. Do you have set goals? Document them and share them in this meeting.
5. Why did you chose this mentor? Obviously you thought this person could help you. Let them know why/how you thought they could be of assistance. They might have other ideas, as well.
You picked this person to help you in some way. You must have respect for them, their knowledge and their contacts. Be open with them. And just remember: They are giving you their time. Know what you want, be concise and listen, listen, listen.