Throughout our younger life, we became very reliant on guidance; parents, tutors, siblings. We worked to deadlines, we followed set programmes at school, we had bedtimes, we handed in homework. Then we get into adult life, and suddenly we have to parent ourselves. We want to do big things, but at the same time, life can take away with you.
What is a mentor? “a person who gives a younger or less experienced person help and advice over a period of time, especially at work.” In the veterinary sense, this could be a casual mentorship from an experienced colleague, private one-to-one mentorship with a veterinary specific mentor, or group mentoring. Sometimes we even have people that are mentors to us without realising that’s the role they serve.
Why do you need a mentor?
1) It helps you to skip steps. Often, your mentor has already done what you want to do; this is not just as a new graduate, this is at all stages of your career. They’ve found out what works, and their knowledge could help you jump several rungs up the ladder and avoid pitfalls. If you have a specific niché that you wish to pursue, seeking a mentor who has already made it in this field can be infinitely useful.
2) Accountability. Isn’t it amazing that we are quite happy to get something done for someone else, but less so when it’s just for us? Mentorship helps progression and keeps you on track. Each programme and mentor will be different, but often progress updates are requested and tasks may need performing by certain dates.
3) A fresh point of view. An experienced pair of eyes can cast a different perspective on a situation, that might be the key you need.
4) Contacts and leads. Often, mentors are experienced in an industry and have many routes they can help to open up for you. These may be people and influencers that you might never usually meet otherwise.
5) Support and encouragement. Humans are goal driven beings, and having a cheerleader to help push you towards a goal can really help. Working towards a target is rewarding on the good days, but on those where you really don’t feel like it, having a mentor can push you through those roadblocks and reach success.
Great, but where do we find them? Mentors can be everywhere. A good place to start is often opening conversations. Look towards those who’ve worked in a similar field and have done what you wish to do. Drop them a message and ask them whether they offer mentoring, or know someone within the same field that does. Also, don’t forget online platforms like Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify! That has a whole list of those within the profession that are keen to mentor.