A mentor is not a career fairy godmother.
There’s no one with a magic wand who can build you a successful career with a swish of their wrist – that is, unless you’re a close personal friend of Oprah’s.
While they can’t turn pumpkins into carriages, having a mentor can have a seriously good influence on your career. One Forbes study that followed 1,000 employees over five years found that those with a mentor were promoted five times more often and were 20% more likely to get a raise than those without mentors. Similarly, another Forbes survey that concentrated on entrepreneurs found that those who received mentoring increased their revenue by 106%, compared to only 14% by their non-mentored peers.
While a recent survey found that mentoring is important to 87% of Canadians, however, only 19% of us believe we actually have one.
Rather than expecting to get everything you need out of just one mentor, though, why not open your mind to the benefits of having multiple mentors of different career levels and strengths?
Here are 8 career mentors we think every young professional should have:
1. THE ADVISOR
This is the most traditional type of mentor. They are well-established in their career and respected by their peers. They should be in the same industry as you – even better if they work for the same company (or one you want to work at). Show them that you are worth their time and they will impart their wisdom on you to help make you become a corporate star.
“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”
— Steven Spielberg
2. THE “YOU” IN ONE YEAR
This person is often forgotten as a mentor but can have a big impact on your success as a new employee or young professional. They understand the difficulties you may be having and remember what it’s like to be in your shoes. Stay on their good side and they can help you get through thrive during those first months in a new role.
“Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
3. THE SUPPORT SYSTEM
This is one mentor who can come from any line of work or walk of life. They are an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and a sounding board for your ideas. You turn to them after a hard day because you know they will be there for you. They support you in everything that you do and don’t hesitate to pick up the phone when you call. Heck, they can even be your mom.
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”
— Oprah Winfrey
4. THE NO BULLSH*TTER
Opposite to the above mentor, the No Bullsh*tter is not afraid to tell it like it is. You know that you can rely on them to give their honest opinion on your ideas. They neither have the time nor the filter to sugarcoat anything. You may need to visit the Support System after speaking to them, but hey, at least you know the truth.
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”
— Benjamin Disraeli
5. THE NETWORKER
Think of this mentor as your own walking-talking LinkedIn account. They can help you navigate the waters at networking events, conferences, and meetings. It’s turning the old adage about “whom you know” into “whom you know – and who they know – and who knows them.” This mentor can make introductions that can turn into valuable connections throughout your career.
“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.”
— Denzel Washington
6. THE ALTER EGO
This is an unconventional type of mentor. Their thoughts, opinions, and way of doing things are completely unlike your own. While you may not always agree with them, sometimes hearing a different point of view can help you reflect on your own work. They can also act as a great point of contrast to give you a unique perspective on your ideas.
“Colleagues are a wonderful thing – but mentors, that’s where the real work gets done.”
— Junot Diaz
7. THE INDUSTRY GURU
You may never meet this person, but you would love to have the same success. The Industry Guru is at the top of their game and can teach you valuable lessons about rising to the top. You can likely find them speaking at industry events and read their bio on the internet. Studying their career might just point you in the right direction for your own.
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
— Isaac Newton
8. THE INSPIRATION
You do not have to have a personal connection in order for someone to have a great impact on your life. This mentor can be anyone who has inspired you along the way. Be it colleagues, family, friends, celebrities, or anyone in between, the Inspiration has guided you on the path you have taken. They are your motivation for doing what you do.
“We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.”
— Whoopi Goldberg