By Jenn DeWall, Owner of Jenn DeWall Life & Career Coaching and CWCC Member
When I graduated in 2005 I was a bright-eyed, ambitious, overachiever. I was smart and driven, the two things that I thought mattered most for success in any career. If I knew then what I know now I could have done things differently and not made some of the mistakes that led me being “stuck” in a job that I hated or feeling like I was incompetent. It’s also my belief that if I had a mentor early on these mistakes could have easily been avoided or minimized.
- Perception Matters. As said above, I initially believed that drive and intelligence were the ingredients for career success. I was wrong. These components were only a fraction of what gets you promoted. The remainder is based on perception. Think, how you dress, walk, talk, and even who you associate with. The majority of perception is non-verbal. Initially, I would laugh a lot at work. I thought that it was a great stress reliever and that it helped our team bond. WRONG! Though the team that I worked with knew I was great, upper level management couldn’t take me seriously because they thought I was always goofing off. If a mentor would have told me this early on, I would have likely made different choices in multiple areas.
- Seeing the Big Picture. Being the overachiever that I am, I was very anxious in my career to climb the corporate ladder. I was so self-absorbed in climbing the corporate staircase that I didn’t even revel in the learnings at each step or position. My boss grew frustrated and kept asking me to be patient. Fast forward in time and now I finally understand that a career path is closer to a marathon than a sprint. The time invested in each position provides value and experience that can help you throughout your career. See the big picture, know where you want to go and ask yourself “How best can I prepare myself for that time?” versus “how fast can I get there?” Ask yourself, would you rather be more prepared and arrive at a later date? Or arrive earlier and not have the resources that you need? That question, is another great way that a mentor can help support your career. A mentor is on the journey with you, helping you enjoy and process the experiences along the way.
Though I only listed a few of my personal experiences of why I wish I had a mentor there are so many other areas that mentors can help you. Think communication, defining a career path, goal setting, leadership, and executive presence to name a few. Mentors are not only for those early on in their career, they’re for everyone. What type of mentor can help support your growth?
“It’s what we think we know that stops us from learning.”
Jenn DeWall, Career & Life Coach for Young Professional Women