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6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Mentorship, Dear Grasshopper

Mentorship is a great way of gaining the wisdom of experience in a relatively short order. Mentors provide students with an opportunity to escape some of the pitfalls that befall others and learn from the “masters” of whatever industry they are in. History is full of examples of mentor relationships that led to remarkable developments – but how can these relationships go wrong? Well – Lydia Dishman writes this article framing the problems that occur during a mentoring relationship, and some of the ways to avoid those problems to get the most out of a mentor. Dishman takes the example from Alice Korngold – CEO of Korngold Consulting – who has mentored many students and corporate execs. She relates an example of how some mentees fail to research their mentor before beginning and, surprisingly, what they hope to learn: Korngold says the learning process should start with the mentee finding out as much as they can about their mentor. But they also need to analyze what they are trying to accomplish with their advisor. She suggests thinking in categories such as increasing professional networks, guidance, and/or introductions to others. “Then in the first meeting, lay out who you are, tell them this is how you can be helpful and here are ways I can be helpful,” she says. Being sensitive and thoughtful of their time and generosity, Korngold advises not to throw everything at the mentor at once. “It’s almost a gentle negotiation.” Subsequent sessions can further explore what each expects and set goals. Another suggestion that comes by way of Jonathan Fields (author of Career Renegade) is that too many mentees “look for mentors as a source of validation, rather than actual knowledge”. By doing so, they lose an immense opportunity to learn. Furthermore, there is always the chance that the mentor will disagree with some assumptions that the mentee has. If the mentee has a big ego, this can lead to them becoming defensive, furthering themselves from the learning opportunity.

About Matthew Kabik

Matthew Kabik is the former Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He worked at Computer Aid, Inc. from 2008 to 2014 in the Harrisburg offices, where he was a copywriter, swordsman, social media consultant, and trainer before moving into editorial.

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