After years spent playing the same game, it can be easy to coast along without giving much thought to your next move. But where do you go once you’ve broken down your barriers, overcome your trials, and accomplished every career goal you set for yourself? When you hit a stall and are unsure of what to do next or how to take the next step in your career, having a mentor can be just as important during the middle of your career—perhaps even more so—as it was when you were just beginning your career.
While asking for help early on can seem like a given, connecting with other people in your field can give you a push to reach things you never thought of or even just how to advance in general. Reaching out can be especially helpful for women and members of minority groups who have been excluded from traditional alumni groups that give access and networking opportunities.
One benefit of finding a mid-career mentor is that you gain access to different kinds of knowledge and insight that you would not have found without reaching out to someone. Everyone has their own experiences and insights, and working with a mid-career mentor can help you find solutions to problems from a fresh perspective. Because you have more responsibilities further along down your career path than when you first begin, having someone who can help you find the most efficient way to keep things in check is even more crucial.
Having a mid-career mentor can also be an asset if you’re considering transitioning to a new career. Speaking with someone who is already involved in the field can provide insight about whether or not the change would be a good fit for you, the work actually involved, and advice on how to succeed in your new career.
Working with a mentor can also help you build your network. When you take the initiative to reach out to one person, they may introduce you to others who can provide greater opportunities for you, but they can also help you find great people to bring onto your own team. This is another reason to remember that while looking for a mentor, there is no right or wrong formula. Don’t be afraid to seek out mentors who are younger than you or even mentors who have a title not directly above your own—especially when making a career transition.
The comfort of knowing that you have a source to turn to for comfort and support could be the key to keep moving forward by staying inspired. Even the most senior-level positions have to continue to prove themselves, and this can cause major stress. While family and friends can provide consolation, being able to commiserate with someone who actually knows the same struggle can provide a sense of unparalleled solidarity.
When you work with a mentor, they may see that you are capable of more than even you believe yourself to be. They may inspire you to seek out an even higher title, move on to a larger company, or even start a company of your own.
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets anthology.