Mentoring has been on my mind a lot lately. No matter where you’re at on your career path, good mentors are invaluable. I’ve been lucky to have mentors like Beatryx Washington, who have played both the coach and cheerleader for me. But rather than give my amateur advice on how to find a good mentor, I went to the expert–Belinda Han. Teaching people to find mentors and be mentors is basically her job, and she’s really, really good at it!
Meet Belinda Han. Belinda is the Director for the Center for Leadership at Utah Valley University. She has a master’s degree in Organizational Behavior and is working on a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Leadership. (Pretty legit, right???) Belinda said mentors play a huge role, almost parental, in helping you transition into your career. They are a source of advice and counsel, showing you the ropes and advocating for you in front of their peers. Mentors can provide you opportunities that you couldn’t get on your own.
So, how to find a good mentor? Belinda shared a story from her own life about a woman who was her mentor. Belinda intentionally networked in the field she had interest in. With a little persistence, Belinda found someone who took an interest in her, and was proactive about introducing her to people and opportunities. The mentor was a professor with a similar background to Belinda. “She was where I wanted to be!” Belinda said. Belinda took initiative to reach out to this professor, and the professor reached back. The mentoring evolved organically, naturally. When Belinda was no longer in that class, she kept in contact with the professor. 10 years later, they are still in contact!
Advice to live by:
- Have courage, and speak up
- Approach somebody who is in a position you’re interested in
- Be respectful
- Be consistent