January is often a time for fresh starts. It is a time when many of us embark on a mission to lose weight, get organized, become a better friend, or prepare for a new job. We often take this time and reflect on our weaknesses and opportunities rather than focus on the strengths we already possess. I invite you to be a little different. Take a moment and think about what you are good at. Are you a great listener? Are you a fantastic public speaker? Are you great at organizing your schedule? No matter what you are good at, there is someone else, a peer or maybe someone younger, who can learn from you. In addition to a time of resolutions, January can also be a great time to become a mentor. In fact, January is National Mentoring Month and you can become someone who matters to someone else.
Can you think of an adult who mattered to you and who helped shape who you are? Think about how that person made an impact. As you work on your goals for 2014, why not add “becoming a mentor” to the list? You can help a high school student prepare for the college application process. You probably remember how challenging that was; and now that you are in college, you can be a fantastic asset to a high school student.
Maybe you don’t feel quite ready to be a mentor. If you are like most people, you have many areas of your life you would like coaching on. This is also a great time to think about who would be helpful to you. Most of us seek career guidance. If you already have an idea of what your dream job is, get to know a professional in that field. One way to open their door is to request an informational interview. This could be an informal lunch where you can get to know what a day in the life of, say, an investment banker, is like, if that’s what you’d like to become. If that lunch meeting goes well, keep in touch with that person and let a mentoring relationship grow organically. If that doesn’t suit you, there are also countless formal mentoring programs. Take a look at what your campus has to offer or do some exploring on-line.
In my life, I have always had mentors who have looked out for me and have taught me from their experiences or mistakes. It has really made an impact on my career. I really appreciate when others take the time to show me a better way to do something or give me some career tips. This is why I volunteer for an organization that provides mentoring to high school students. I also never shy away from an opportunity to provide coaching or guidance to a less experienced colleague. So, I hope you will give some thought to mentorship and how it could add value to your life, whether you become a mentor or find one, or both!