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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Sep 15, 2014

Why’d I Get a Mentor?

Image Source; AwakenYourInnerCowgirl.com
I left my last job because of a strong desire to grow my technological expertise. That, and I was in the early stages of my career 5-year plan. An opening revealed itself and I stepped outside of my non-profit comfort zone, into higher education. After over a year in higher ed, postings leading toward my goal began to appear. I was tempted by a few of them; going as far as to apply for three prestigious and promising postings. Although confident in my ability to succeed in yet another new setting, I was worried that the move might be too soon—and have detrimental repercussions when I finally apply for my dream job.

Asking the advice of my husband and friends was pointless. All were of the opinion that I’m skilled and talented and supremely qualified for anything coming across my radar. They answered the question of ‘should I be doing this?’ with a resounding ‘you can do it!’ Not what I was looking for.

Taking the advice of a speaker at the annual meeting of WIHME (Women in Maryland Higher Education, professional organization), I opted to seek a mentor. Choosing a professional in my field who I respected—who was judicious and thoughtful—was my goal. Through the years I’ve come across several people who helped build my professional confidence, reinforce my goals of community service, and grow my understanding of the field and my positive role within it. However, one stood out above the rest. My former communications director at my previous job was the ideal candidate.

After a day of deliberation, my old boss agreed to become my new mentor. She asked me questions about why I’d choose to leave my current post—after so short a time. She gave me homework to do between our meetings, and she gave me insights on what hiring managers think and expect. Friends and family can’t do that.

A direct result of my mentor’s probing questions and insightful input was that I put my job search on hold. A direct result of that action is that  I’ve gained some valuable new experience and expertise, and expanded my role within my current department. Often friends and family are complimentary but wholly not helpful.

The objective voice and advanced expertise of my mentor provided me with a compass to keep my 5*-year plan on course.

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