4 Reasons Why You Should Consider Finding a Mentor When Changing Careers — And How to Do It

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 22, 2024 at 4:29AM UTC

Sometimes, we just don’t land jobs that fulfill us or align with our expectations. That’s why many professionals find themselves wanting to change professionals over the course of their careers. While pivoting into a new career is daunting, it’s hardly impossible — and securing a mentor can help you do it.

How a mentor can help you change careers

1. They can provide insight into different career paths.

You may not be aware of everything that could be available to you — in your industry and beyond. A mentor can help you brainstorm different paths, illuminating possibilities you didn’t even know existed. Perhaps there’s a role that matches your skillset and seems tailor-made for someone with your interests and qualifications! With a mentor, you’ll be able to consider and explore a range of ideas.

2. They will share their own journeys.

You can learn a lot from someone who has experience in your desired field or a related one. A mentor will share their own carer journey with you, telling you how they got to where they are. This will give you exposure to the different routes people take to get to where they are today — some are straightforward and linear, but many are windy.

3. They can help you reflect on your transferable skills.

Think you don’t have the necessary skills to make a career pivot? Think again. While there are certain industries that require more education or qualifications — for example, you can’t just career change into becoming an attorney without law school — for many fields, there are plenty of transferable skills you’ll bring to the table. A mentor can work with you to reflect on the skills you have that will be valuable for a range of roles.

4. They will be candid with you.

The best mentors don’t placate you. Sure, they praise you for your accomplishments, but they will also offer constructive criticism and feedback. This is important for developing as a professional, no matter where your path takes you. They will also be forthcoming about the challenges you could face when making a career pivot — which should certainly be on your radar so you know what you’re up against.

How to find a mentor during a career change

1. Arrange informational interviews.

Informational interviews are opportunities to explore careers that interest you. They’re usually not evaluative, but they will give you a chance to ask questions without judgment — and if you make the most of them, you can develop valuable connections in your desired field, even mentors.

2. Work with a peer.

Mentors don’t have to be people older than us or further along in their careers. Peers at the same level as you can also prove valuable partners in career development. If you work with a trusted peer, you’ll be better equipped to support one another and give each other guidance based on real-time experiences. These types of relationships can persist well into the future, too.

3. Reach out to your network.

Think broadly when you reach out to your network. You might approach someone you admire on LinkedIn and ask them to meet up for coffee. Perhaps there is a business owner or leading professional in your community whom you’ve always looked up to. Or, you might tap into your alumni network from your high school or college. The point is, don’t limit yourself to your immediate circle.

4. Attend events in your new career area.

Industry events, such as conferences, are excellent resources for meeting others in your industry or desired field. Think of them as opportunities to network. You could very well have a conversation that leads to a long-lasting mentoring relationship. When you do attend events, make sure you approach as many people as possible and strike up conversations. Not every discussion will be fruitful, but some could prove career-changing if you’re lucky and you make the effort.

Career changes can be challenging, but there are plenty of ways to find support. Mentors can prove excellent resources to help you on your professional journey, no matter what path you take.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance editor and writer based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab-mix Hercules. She primarily focuses on education, technology and career development. She has worked with Penguin Random House, Fairygodboss, CollegeVine, BairesDev and many other publications and organizations. Her humor writing has appeared in the Weekly Humorist, Slackjaw, Little Old Lady Comedy, Flexx Magazine, Points in Case, Jane Austen's Wastebasket, and Greener Pastures. She also writes fiction and essays, which have appeared in publications including The Memoirist and The Avalon Literary Review. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

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