Mentor Me: Why Young Professionals Should Get a Mentor
When I started my career I had been conditioned to believe that asking for help of any kind was a sign of weakness. Navigating the unpredictable terrain of life is bad enough, but when you’re told to “figure it out yourself”, you can’t help but feel defeated.
Thankfully, the world has changed its tune and moved from “figure it out yourself” to just “figure it out”, but it no longer means we have to do it alone.
As a young professional, you’re probably facing a dozen obstacles of your own today. No one is immune to life’s many challenges, but the question is, how do you conquer them? Look no further than the species of amazing people known as mentors.
What is a mentor to a young professional?
A mentor is someone who can help you “figure it out.” They, too, have likely squared off with the same challenges you may be facing: identifying career goals, honing essential skills, building a strong professional network, getting promoted, etc. Their intimate knowledge, wisdom, and unique experiences are tools for navigating these challenges and elevating your personal and professional lives tenfold.
My Experience as a Mentee
My mentor and I at a networking event in Scottsdale.
On my first day at evolvedMD in July 2021, our VP of Sales introduced me to a mentorship opportunity through Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders (ACEL). I had never had a mentor before and initially dismissed the idea for three reasons:
I’m not Asian;
I thought getting a mentor (aka asking for help) admitted weakness; and
I figured the program would involve nothing more than slinging business cards at stuffy networking events.
She assured me that I didn’t have to be Asian, that mentorship is a sign of strength, and that the program is mentee-driven and completely tailored to what I want to accomplish. I trusted her judgment and applied for the program later that evening.
After an extensive interview and matching period, ACEL paired me with the Founder and CEO of a local marketing agency here in the Valley. In our first meeting, we exchanged hellos, shared our respective backgrounds, and what we hoped to get out of the nine-month program. I then rattled off 50-or-so goals I aimed to achieve during our time together.
He helped me narrow my focus down to a handful of goals:
Take charge of my overall health and lose 20lbs
Start personal writing again after a five-year hiatus
Build meaningful relationships, both personal and professional
Travel outside the United States for the first time ever
Get promoted at work (I had never been promoted before)
I felt overwhelmed after this exercise; each goal felt like a tall order in a race against time. That’s when my mentor introduced me to the power of turning small, daily disciplines into massive success.
“The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson guided the rest of our mentorship experience. As my mentor put it, the idea is simple: consistently doing small, seemingly insignificant actions every day will lead to huge, positive outcomes. Conversely, not doing them will result in the opposite. It’s just as easy to do these simple actions than it is to not. Together, we mapped out a plan with “The Slight Edge” principle in mind. For example, I will go on a 15-minute walk every day to take charge of my overall health and lose 20lbs.
Working one-on-one with my mentor and performing simple, seemingly insignificant actions over the next nine months led to great results:
I lost 35lbs and no longer felt winded doing virtually anything
I published six personal articles on my Medium account
I made friends through local Meetups and professional connections through GET Phoenix, eventually joining the Board
I went to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest by myself and had the time of my life
I earned my first-ever promotion in my career (literally the day before the mentorship program graduation ceremony — pretty much hit the buzzer beater!)
My mentor’s guidance, unwavering support, and commitment to my personal and professional development turned what I thought to be crazy dreams into reality. We even won Mentor of the Year and Mentee of the Year at the graduation ceremony for everything we had accomplished together.
ACEL Mentor and Mentee of the Year.
Why young professionals should get a mentor
You’ll always have someone in your corner
Nobody will root for you harder than a mentor. Why? Because they’ve been there before. They’ve had their fair share of experiences with success, failure, and everything in between on the path to being who they are today. There is perhaps no one more qualified to help you make informed decisions and avoid common pitfalls than a mentor who has been there, done that, and triumphed over whatever challenges you’re currently facing.
You’ll have the ultimate sounding board
Great mentors are great listeners. Their ears are always open to hear your ideas, your pain points, your progress, your wins, and your losses. But mentorship is never a one-sided conversation; your mentor will gladly step in with their own thoughts and collaborate with you to develop effective solutions and plans for attack. My mentor intently listened to my ramblings and punctuated everything I said with wise words from his relevant experiences. Then we’d workshop some proposed solutions, fine-tune them, put them into practice, report on progress, and then optimize over time to ultimately achieve my goals.
You’ll gain a new level of confidence you never thought possible
Having someone who believes in you can give you the confidence to take risks, try new things, and push yourself out of your comfort zone. If it weren’t for my mentor and him introducing me to “The Slight Edge”, I would likely still be wallowing in the misery of my previous comfort zone and writing self-deprecating articles wondering why I’m not getting promoted, traveling the world, or getting fit. Mentors have an uncanny ability to extract what little confidence you may have deep down and help it snowball until you’re almost unrecognizable.
You’ll expand your network
As social creatures, building and nurturing relationships is everything. In addition to providing guidance and advice, mentors can introduce you to other professionals to connect you to new opportunities, learn essential skills, or in my case, feel right at home in my new city where I knew absolutely nobody. It goes without saying, but your mentor is a permanent member of your network who will be there for you long after the program concludes. Over the 2022 holiday season, months after graduation, my mentor invited me to his church to hear him speak. We got to connect throughout the evening and fill each other in our lives, what we’re up to, and all the exciting things on the horizon.
You’ll accelerate your own success
Everyone is in a rush to achieve their goals, but sometimes our lone efforts are misguided and stifle progress. A mentor can help you fast-track your success by offering clear direction and guidance for achieving your goals more quickly and efficiently. Just like having a gym buddy to hold you accountable for going, a mentor is like an accountability to make sure you’re staying on track.
If you're a young professional looking to make your mark at work or on life in general, find a mentor who can help you unleash your full potential. I wish I had taken advantage of this opportunity in my 20s, but I’m forever grateful for my mentor and everything he’s done to elevate my personal and professional life. I learned so much from the experience that ACEL asked me to be a mentor in the next mentorship class. I now have the privilege to pay it forward and mentor an exceptional young professional who’s smashing his goals left and right.
My mentee and I.
Want to get a mentor?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Evan is a passionate and creative individual with over five years of content marketing, social media, and communications experience. Possessing a unique background that spans social experimental psychology, entertainment, artificial intelligence, and now mental health, Evan serves as Senior Marketing & Communications Specialist at evolvedMD, a leading behavioral health integration company based in Scottsdale. In
his free time, he enjoys hiking, writing short stories, and exploring the local music and craft beer scene.