The Importance of Mentors with Dr. Nicole Morris

Great advice on how to find a mentor for your professional career

Some of the best support systems you can have in your life are mentors. These are the people who help make your goals possible by providing valuable guidance and support. You may already have mentors without even realizing it. That family member or friend who offered you life advice. A teacher who helped you in school. With your career, it will be no different.

But what if you’re just starting out or have been in the business for a while but haven’t yet developed a mentorship with someone who can speak to your career?

Well, relax – finding a mentor is possible. Nicole Morris, SVP & Dean of Career Readiness at Strayer, is happy to share her tips on finding a professional mentor.

Maybe an image of Nicole here for the transition to her voice

Some of you may already be familiar with my blog on iCampus.. Previously, I asked if you have a mentor or if you would benefit from one. Many of you expressed the need for a mentor. So now I want to provide a little guidance to help you in your pursuit.

I have had many mentors, and can probably identify one at each stage of my life over the years for different reasons. As a matter of fact, I have one now that I call often for guidance on my career, professional choices and education. The relationship has been invaluable to me. I am not even sure if he realizes he is my mentor (I don’t think I have ever clarified the relationship). Sometimes we talk by phone, and many times, I shoot him an email for his advice about my next move or what I am considering. He has always responded, and sometimes he has called after my email to make sure he understood my question. I can hear him now, saying, “Nicole, tell me more about what you are thinking and why?”

We developed our relationship about 20 years ago, as he was my first employer at the University of Memphis, when I was a student worker (this is not the time to figure out how old I am – stay focused and keep reading). Once I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up, I realized he was my perfect mentor because he had many of the careers I aspired for in higher education…so I decided he would take me under his wing (and he has- and I am ever so grateful for our relationship).

So what is a mentor and how do you find one? In the simplest terms, a mentor provides a personal relationship and guides less experienced or knowledgeable persons. There is no age limit, and no specific terms that define the relationship or what the conversations or experiences include. Since many of you mentioned not knowing how to find a mentor, here are four tips from Kathy Caprino and her article How to Find a Great Mentor – First, Don’t Ever Ask a Stranger on forbes.com.

First, don’t attempt to identify a mentoring relationship with a stranger. Common sense, right. You really want to develop a deeper relationship with someone you know and trust.

But if there is some you admire, and don’t know, how do you get know them? This is tip number two: the author suggests to follow their work, support them in their work efforts, and share their tweets and posts. In other words, begin to develop the relationship, especially with those you admire that are 10 steps ahead of you. They are where you want to be, right?

Third, ask yourself if you are someone you would like to mentor? You really want to be enjoyable, persistent, energetic and eager to learn. Mentoring you shouldn’t be hard – it should be relatively easy and fun.

Lastly, pretend you are the mentor. You want to develop the same type of relationship you would want with your mentee. Remember, your turn will be next.

I hope these tips help. Let me know about your search, and if you found a great mentor. Maybe it’s time for you to also do some mentoring of your own.

Nicole Morris, Ed.D.

SVP & Dean, Career Readiness

Strayer@Work

Follow me on Twitter @iamdrnicole

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