Will You Mentor Me?

Julie Shenkman
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Although the path to career success is rarely smooth, one of the best ways to ensure a steady ride is to find a mentor to guide you along the way. Particularly in the constantly evolving accounting field, mentoring relationships can give beginning financial professionals a personal boost to stay the course and avoid professional pitfalls.

The following tips can help you identify a “Yoda” to your “Luke Skywalker” -- a trusted advisor who will become invested in your success:

  • Take the initiative early. It’s never too early to start scoping out potential mentors. Try to connect with professionals who have reached a position you’d like to be in one day. To expand your options, consider people outside your firm as well. Joining associations in your field will allow you to interact with specialists in your area of interest.
  • Choose with care. Your immediate supervisor is not an ideal mentor. He or she should be someone who is not involved in your periodic evaluations. It’s better to choose an individual with whom you can freely discuss career and workplace issues. If you’re looking for someone you can model yourself after, seek out advisors with similar career aspirations to your own.
  • The more the merrier. As a beginning professional, you can benefit from having more than one mentor to gain expertise in a variety of areas.
  • Expect guidance, not solutions. While you can gain a certain level of support from mentors, it’s important to remember that they cannot solve your career issues for you. The best value mentors can offer you is an informed perspective based on their experience. Listen to their stories and try to learn from the pitfalls they gave encountered. Ask them to be your sounding board, but fight your own battles.
  • Stop at check-points. Try to establish a way to monitor your progress with a mentor to make sure you stay on track. Discuss mutual expectations with him or her and agree at the outset the amount of time each of you has to devote to the relationship. You’ll know the collaboration is working if you receive constructive feedback, develop self-awareness and learn to grow beyond your perceived limitations.

This article was provided by Accountemps, a division of Robert Half International, Inc. As the industry leader and expert in temporary financial staffing, the company provides an array of resources to job seekers, including salary data, job search tips, advice on which skills are in demand, and online courses providing continuing professional education credits. Accountemps has more than 330 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.


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