Recently, we've been talking with customers and users about how mentoring is changing. People are changing the way they find mentors, how often they meet with them, and even who they consider a mentor.
To help us better understand this new view of mentorship, we've set out to interview people about how they think about mentorship. We kickoff the series of interviews with members from our InstaViser team. We sat down with Josh Getz, one of our customer success managers, to talk about who he turns to for advice, if it's true that mentors really need to be older than you, and how to ask the universe for help in finding a mentor.
What does mentoring mean to you?
Mentoring means having someone to turn to when you're not sure what to do. Someone that you trust, someone that you respect. Someone who you know has your best interests in mind. Often times it can be hard to find someone like this and when that’s the case, it’s easy to lose confidence in your decision about something big in your life. Mentoring also provides some illumination when doing something completely new because you have the resources of someone who’s already been there and done that.
Do you think mentors have to be older or can they be the same age/experience level as you or even younger?
In short, no. Mentors of different ages all have their very useful place. For example, younger mentors may have just gone through the same experience you’re dealing with and may have extremely relevant advice. They’re also likely easier to relate to because of the age similarity. On the other hand, they’re also still in the hunt, hungry for success. They likely haven’t quite made to the top yet and in that case, they’re probably still seeking out mentorship. Older mentors have the advantage of more experience and can provide better long term advice for potentially large career moves or life decisions because they have seen the impact of such decisions over years.
Is mentorship important to career/personal development? How so?
Absolutely. Life is an open book. You can chose to do whatever it is that you want to do. Once you’ve made your decision, it’s easy to get lost or confused along the way. Having someone to turn to during both the good times and the bad can help keep you on a path to success. They’re also able to guide you around potential obstacles and prevent you from making some of the mistakes they made.
A study from the Huffington Post found that 79% of millennials believe “mentorship programs are crucial to their career success.” Why do you think so many people value mentorship?
I think everyone realizes success is not a solo endeavor and having someone on your team is essential in today’s extremely competitive professional landscape.
Who do you think of as a mentor in your life?
I don’t have someone I call “my mentor” but whenever I have a big decision to make or am going through a tough time, I always reach out to as many people as I can to seek advice and guidance. There are some I routinely reach out to such as Major Nate Wood in the Marines. He’s helped guide me in every major decision in my military career, and has provided invaluable advice and reassurance when I encountered roadblocks along the way.
How did you find your mentors?
We were connected via the Michigan Rowing alumni network. He’s a few years older than me but we both rowed at Michigan in college and both turned to the military for careers after rowing. We shared a common background and similar goals even though we’re in different branches of the military.
Have you been a mentor to anyone and how did you know you were ready to be a mentor?
Yes, I have mentored kindergarten kids, college students, and a few rowers here and there. Anyone is ready to be a mentor if they have valuable information to share about a subject that they intimately understand. All that matters is what you know and your willingness to share it. Age isn't important.
Any advice for people looking to become a mentor or find a mentor?
If you’re looking to find a mentor, it’s all about networking. There are so many out there that want to give back because no one is successful all by themselves. But it’s up to you to find them. Throw yourself headfirst into whatever community you’re interested in. Go to events, talk to strangers on the street. It’s your responsibility to put your goals and desires out there. If you don’t tell anyone, they certainly won’t be able to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask the universe for something. More often than not, you’ll find yourself with it, or at least a step closer to getting it.
If you’re someone looking to teach and coach, the best place to find the people looking for help is in the community itself. There are tons of resources online and in person that enable communities to get together. Start getting involved and letting others know what you know. Nobody will seek your advice if they haven’t a clue who you are or what you’ve done. And nowadays there are many different ways to put yourself out there: Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Meetup, etc. There are 100s of ways to get involved in a community. Join and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!