At my workplace, we have endless resources for working moms. We have a Lean In group for leaders that meets every other week, formal and informal mentorship opportunities and growth plans, just to name a few. I’ve found that having and being a mentor has been particularly valuable for me as I’ve grown in my career, and I think it’s a topic that’s often misinterpreted by women in the workplace.
Sheryl Sandberg addresses this topic head on in her book, Lean In. Many times, women feel like they need to find a mentor to help them navigate the workforce. In my experience, the best mentors have those that have naturally evolved into those relationships, rather than launching quickly into a “will you be my mentor?” quest. In my experience, like dating, the best mentoring relationships are those that naturally evolve.
3 MYTHS ABOUT MENTORSHIP:
MYTH: Mentors Need to Hold High Power Roles. I’ve found that mentors can be found across the workplace – we limit ourselves if we think they need to be our superior or in the C-suite. I’ve learned tremendously from men and women in the workplace that hold a variety of roles, and not always leadership. That said, one of my most treasured relationships is with a female in a very prestigious position. She gives advice and feedback that are equivalent to a treasure chest. But she may have more limited advice when it comes to tactical ideas for my role in the field of marketing. The point here is that the more mentors you have, the better. They can all offer value in your life whether personally or professionally.
MYTH: Mentors Should Always Make You Happy. The most valuable pieces of advice I’ve received aren’t always the easiest to hear. Those mentors that take the time to help you grow in the workforce have probably had missteps along their career path, and they want to help you avoid them. Which often means you have to be strong enough to ask, “What do I need to do differently?” Mentorship relationships don’t always mean they give you glowing praise every time you meet. And once you hear their advice, it’s on you to take action.
MYTH: You Can Wing It. The people in my life who have served as mentors are extremely busy, and if they are taking their time to meet with me, it’s only fair I am prepared as possible to get the most out of our time together. I recommend those being mentored come to the table with 2 or 3 topics (depending on your time) you know you want to ask your mentor to get insight on. And prepare to come with your own solution or point of view on that topic. Meeting with your mentor isn’t so they can solve your problems; but rather, they can provide insight or another angle on how to approach them.
As a working mom, I face personal and professional obstacles or decisions on a regular basis I just don’t feel equipped to handle on my own. Whether it’s my mother, boss, or one of my mentors from within my career path, I feel fortunate to have those resources available to me so I can handle what’s thrown my way. If you don’t have a mentor yet, open yourself up to the possibility. If you show a willingness to grow and learn, someone will likely come your way.
As a new mother, Julie is energized by combining her love of writing and the adventures of parenthood on her blog, Everyday Happiness. Julie enjoys spending time with her husband, Clint, their first child, an almost one-year-old boy named Shepard and their dog Cooper. Julie grew up in a small town in Ohio but moved across the country to attend Arizona State University and received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She’s currently working on completing her MBA. She works full-time as a director of marketing communications at a national spine surgery provider headquartered in Tampa, Florida, where she leads a communications and creative team. She is a true morning person who loves running with her jogging stroller, Bible studies, and being outside in the Florida sunshine.