Five tips to recognize a good mentor

In order to become the very best at something, the quickest and smartest way to get there is with help from people that have experience in this specific area of expertise. These people who have walked the path you are about to walk can preserve you from known mistakes and propel you in the right direction.

These highly valued people are called mentors.

To find a mentor it’s a good idea to take a closer look into your network. You might have a former boss, manager, teacher, friend or someone from your family who is an expert in the field you are trying to leave your footprint in. It might feel a little intimidating at first asking a random person with that amount of knowledge to help you. A good thing to remember at those moments is telling someone you admire them because of their hard work is the ultimate compliment and they will probably be over the moon.

But what exactly makes a great mentor? It goes without saying a great mentor is someone that has a lot of experience and therefore knowledge in the area you’re aiming for. However, take into account that if you don’t make the right choice, the guidance can be off and you end up right where you don’t want to be: At the bottom of the ladder. A mentor can possess all the wisdom in the world, but without feeling the need to transfer this knowledge for the greater good onto you it will probably backfire.

Above all, picking the right mentor for you is important since the relationship between a mentor and their ‘student’ can last a lifetime. From the beginning of your career and through ups and downs climbing your specific career ladder: You’ll want someone suitable next to you for this ride.

To alleviate a bit of the pressure, we’ve gathered five tips for you to take into account while selecting a mentor that will stick with you:

A good mentor wants you to develop your own style ..and they enable this by sharing their life lessons and previous mistakes and how they overcame them. Hearing about these incidents from someone who’s actually been through this will leave you with more knowledge then when you would’ve read it in a book. Mentors pass on their experiences in order for you to soak up this information, process it and with that wisdom taken into account developing your own style in your area of expertise.

A good mentor is your biggest critic .. and celebrate your success by showing where to improve. Mentors have the tendency to be very honest and spot ways to improve quicker than we would ourselves. When you had a success its 10% celebration time, and 90% analyze where there’s room for improvement. If you are in for the long run you want a mentor that doesn’t pad your ego, but someone who can be brutally honest but righteous.

A good mentor is your biggest cheerleader They motivate you when you are about to give up and see talent in you, you might find hard to believe you possess. A good mentor will ignite your confidence and is a continual source of inspiration.

A good mentor won’t charge you … because they went through exactly the same as you did and want to pay it forward, motivated by the prospect of facilitating a career for their protégée.

A good mentor will drive you completely insane .. in a good way. An outstanding mentor will challenge you until you go completely mental. Making mistakes is part of the learning process, but mentors will keep you going until you get it completely right and it will drive you nuts. Tough love that’s called.

Keep moving forward with help from your mentor and someday you might be asked to become one.

Read here how former Office Manager Kris turned her career around and became an Online Content Specialist with help from her (unofficial) mentor Irem.

At Clay we often work with onboarding buddies: Bricks that will be your mentor in your first few weeks at Clay who will show you the ropes.

Find out what job openings we have at Clay here.

Discover who might become your onboarding mentor by taking a peek at our company culture!