Mentors can make a big difference in your career and your life. In a survey by Olivet Nazarene University, 76% of respondents who have mentors said the relationships is important. According to Harvard Business Review, 84% of leaders who have mentors said they’ve avoided costly mistakes and became proficient in their roles faster. While mentors are helpful in many professions, new nurses can find having a mentor a particularly valuable experience.
While finding a mentor can feel intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. There are some things you can do to make the process go smoothly.
Identify the Right Mentor
The best person will be someone who is two to three levels beyond you in your career journey. They’ll have enough experience to share, but they won’t be so far ahead that they can’t relate to your day-to-day challenges and duties. It also helps to choose someone who doesn’t work directly with you. You want them to be able to provide neutral feedback and advice. You can look for a mentor at your hospital or workplace or from your school. You can also consider friends of people in your circle, such as your parents’ friends.
Get Ready for the Ask
Thinking about asking someone to be your mentor may feel awkward. Just as you don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date, you shouldn’t ask someone to be your mentor right away, either. Instead, take the process slowly. Reach out by email or phone and say, “I am impressed with your career trajectory, and I wondered if you’d be willing to provide me with some advice on my own career?” An in-person meeting is best for building a relationship, but a phone or video call can be just as valuable.
Be Clear on What You Need
You want to make the most of your mentor’s time, so instead of a general conversation, come ready with specific questions. This can help guide your conversations and give your mentor an idea of how they can best help. For example, you may want to learn the best ways to move up in your career or you may need advice on how to handle difficult patients. You should also bring a copy of your resume so that your mentor can better understand your background.
After the first meeting, be sure to send them a card or email, thanking them for their time. If you felt the meeting went well, you can suggest a follow-up meeting by saying, “I’d love to continue to learn from you. Would you be willing to meet with me every few weeks?”
Time is a valuable resource. When a mentor gives you some of theirs, honor it by listening and following their advice. If you don’t use the input your mentor gives you, then you’ve wasted their time and yours. If you realize that the relationship isn’t working out, don’t be afraid to end it. If it’s a good match, you can ask your mentor if they’d be willing to meet with you on a regular basis, such as monthly or quarterly.
Not yet a nurse or medical professional? St. Paul’s School of Nursing offers a variety of programs that help you enter this rewarding field. Click here for more information or call us today at (855) 822-3018 and speak to one of our career counselors.