Recently, a photographer friend of mine told me how she once had a “mentor” who wanted to play a fast one on her.
“A fast one? How?” I asked.
“He wanted us to split the cost of a camera and I’d use it to work for him. He also advised I buy a rather expensive laptop” My friend replied as she recalled her journey into photography.
“But, I have found good mentors that ask for nothing just a willingness to learn. They answer all my questions and are always willing to help!”
Our little talk got me thinking about mentorship.
So, Who Is A Mentor?
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself” Oprah
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a mentor as “a trusted counsellor or guide.” Others expand on that definition by suggesting that a mentor is “someone who is helping you with your career, specific work projects or general life advice out of the goodness of his or her heart.
Why Every Woman Needs A Mentor.
It is easy to think you know it all. Who needs a mentor when you have google?
Everyone should have a guide who navigates them. Either through the murky waters of climbing the corporate ladder or starting a fish farm. Why walk alone when you can have a guide?
Here are a few reasons why you need a mentor
- A mentor shares knowledge and life experiences.
- A mentor provides guidance and advice.
- A mentor can provide exposure and visibility within an organization.
- A mentor advises on professional development.
Now you know the benefits of having a mentor, how do you find a good mentor and avoid not so good mentors?
How to Pick a Mentor That Works For You
In this part of the world (Africa) finding a mentor can be a daunting task for women. This is because women face a certain level of discrimination often based on stereotypes. However, do not despair as you can find mentors using the following steps.
Just as dating coaches advise you to cast a wide net when searching for Mr. Right, those who have been through the mentoring process suggest emailing or calling everyone you know to tell them you are interested in finding a mentor. Be specific about what kind of mentor you need and your goals. Also, look for potential mentors around you.
Once you’ve found people or a person who you’d want to mentor you, do not be shy or scared, approach them and explain why you need them to mentor you.
Male Mentor, Female Mentor. What a Girl Needs
One question that women seeking mentors ask is “should I get a male or female mentor?”
I would say get bought if you can. Here is why.
A female mentor is likely to have encountered some sort of discrimination in the workplace. Therefore, she may be better able to tell you how to crack a male-dominated industry or how to deal with gender discrimination issues than a man who has not had to deal with the same issues.
One time I had an issue with dealing with workplace sexism and my female mentor was able to put me through. I doubt a male mentor would have understood me as much as my female mentor did.
On the other hand, a male mentor gives a male perspective as majority of businesses in the world are male-dominated. But, this is not to say women mentors cannot give the same perspective.
If you can find women who are able to give you an all round perspective that would be great. If you can’t there is nothing wrong having a male and female mentor.
The more the merrier right?
Now you know who a mentor is, why you need a mentor, and how to find one, go get yourself one.
Share your mentorship or mentee stories with us by dropping a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re female in Nigeria and need a mentor send us an email at email@example.com. We would be glad to help.