Benefits of a Mentor

Months after landing a job at a Minneapolis-based public-relations firm, Tameka Davis was still looking for guidance on how to excel at the company and eventually move up the ladder. So she signed up for her employer’s mentoring program.

The now-26-year-old was taken under the wing of an older co-worker for a year, and the benefits were palpable: She developed a five-year career plan, improved her networking skills and learned how to work better with clients.

“It’s just good to be able to talk to someone who has been there and can help you navigate your career,” says Ms. Davis.

A mentor can help a young worker answer tough questions about his or her career path and get perspective on the industry. The relationship may even help you eventually land a new job. But you’ll need to be careful to pick a mentor whose expertise and attitude are right for you. And it’s important to maintain proper etiquette

Some companies have formal mentoring programs that pair a young employee with a seasoned worker. “In a more formal mentoring program, you set specific objectives,” says Deb Cohen, senior vice president for knowledge development at the Society for Human Resource Management. You may be expected to set goals, such as learning about a new part of the company, and formally prepare for each meeting with your mentor.

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