We live in an age where almost all the answers to our problems are merely just a click away. Despite this, it is often speculated that while we are surrounded by knowledge, we might be less informed and less knowledgeable than ever. As someone on a mission to grow in your field of interest, navigating through the sheer volume of the information present around us today comes with its own unique set of challenges. Not all information is useful information, and by the time you realize it you’ve already spent 10GB of your data downloading a software you don’t need or binge watching 50 Youtube videos to find just one useful piece of information. It’s okay, we’ve been there, we see you and this where a mentor comes in.
Having a mentor is like having a filter for this information. They stand as your invaluable source of information, guidance, advice and support as you navigate your personal and professional journey. They provide unique insights and perspectives gained from years of experience in the field, in addition to the encouragement needed to achieve your goal. However, you have to remember that much like anything else to get the most of your mentorship experience you have to ask the right questions. Here’s a list of top five questions to ask your mentor that we at Mentorme have created that would get the ball rolling even faster:
- How did you get to your current position?
A sure-fire way to gain valuable insight into your mentor’s experience, expertise and perspective is by learning about the journey that led them to where they are now. One of the greatest gifts you would ever receive is learning from the experience of others – that’s the whole point of a mentorship. Don’t hesitate to ask this question, your mentor would be more than eager to share the steps, challenges and opportunities that led them to where they are now. This question is also an amazing icebreak and could serve as means of establishing a personal connection with your mentor.
- What are the most important lessons you’ve learned throughout your career?
Experience is the best teacher; your mentor has more experience under their belt from their years of trials and errors, and it is their job to ensure that you do not experience as many setbacks as they did in their journey. Asking them to share some of the lessons they’ve learned creates the space for you to gain a fresh perspective on challenges you may be facing. It helps you realize you are not alone in your challenges and the chances are that many people you have been in your shoes.
- How do I work on my strengths and improve my weaknesses?
Any mentor worth their salt would ask you to lay out all your perceived strengths and weaknesses at the start of the mentorship. Use this opportunity to ask them how you can improve on these traits, whether it’s your professional or interpersonal skills. No one knows you the way you know yourself so be as honest as possible and meet your mentor half way so the both of you can make the most out of your mentorship experience.
- What resources do you recommend for my area of interest?
Your mentor would most likely have a few resources in mind for you already, but asking would show how eager and willing you are to learn. These recommendations on books, youtube videos, seminars and other resources would serve as a treasure trove of information on your career journey. You could also use this opportunity to present to your mentor any piece of information you already have that you may be unsure of.
- How can I build a strong professional network?
The importance of networking in your career cannot be overemphasized. You have to keep in mind that knowing the right people and having the right connections is the difference between working hard and working smart. It is important you seek your mentor’s advice on how to create and grow your own professional network. There’s also the chance that they could introduce you to other people in your field who could provide valuable insights or opportunities.
It is important to remember that asking the right questions is a step in the right direction. You will get the chance to ask many more questions that would aid you in building your skills and navigating challenges more effectively, but these questions could serve as a good starting point. Don’t be afraid to approach your mentor with your questions, they’re not going to bite you or turn you away! Your mentor is your guide and your curiosity and openness would only facilitate the learning process.