by Valerie Jones, Careers Editor
For young professionals navigating their way through a career in energy or for those interested in climbing the corporate ladder, the guidance of a mentor can be an invaluable asset.
A mentor can act as a sounding board, providing guidance and support to a mentee, but doesn’t expect much in return, Stacey Farmer, learning and development manager, Americas, at Lloyd’s Register recently told Rigzone.
While many opt to seek out mentors in the early stages of their careers, a mentor can be beneficial for experienced workers as well. While a mentor relationship can be integral part of character development and career advancement, some people struggle with finding a mentor.
Such is the case for one gentleman who reached out to me. He described himself as being mid-career, senior in experience, but new to the oil and gas industry. After landing a job with a prominent oilfield services company, he began to seek out mentors within his organization, but was turned down by seven different people.
I’m sure he’s not alone. For those struggling to find a mentor, here’s a few things to take into consideration:
Don’t be afraid to think outside of your organization.
While some oil and gas companies offer structured mentorship programs for new employees, many do not. So don’t feel like your mentor has to come from within your own organization. In fact, many experts encourage people to look outside of their own organization. Farmer suggests mentees consider individuals they meet through industry trade organizations or networking events. These are people who will be familiar with your industry and will also help you expand your professional network.
Reconsider your approach.
How exactly are you requesting your mentors? Are you simply knocking on the office doors of senior leaders in your organization and asking if they will mentor you? People can be put off by such a forward approach. Nobody likes to be put on the spot, so try to avoid doing so. Also, senior-level employees are quite busy, especially if you consider the industry’s current market environment. Some people simply can’t afford the time commitment it requires to take on a mentee. Mentors can come in all positions, ages and level of experience, so don’t limit yourself to only employees in senior positions.
Mentor relationships don’t have to be formal.
Don’t attach yourself to the mindset that all mentor relationships have to be formal. Honestly, quite a bit of them happen organically – for example, by working closely with someone for a period of time. That’s how Jenni Corcoran, business development analyst for Lloyd’s Register, found her mentor. Corcoran was new to the industry and her mentor was the project representative for a project Corcoran was appointed to lead. Their mentorship is ongoing. The organic approach to mentorship works well because there’s no pressure or obligation on the mentor. Ideally, you want a mentor to seek you out because they saw something in you that impressed them. Truthfully, the only way that can happen is if a) you exhibit behavior and work ethic that is impressive and b) you allow a future mentor to recognize that behavior. This may not happen right away, so give it time.
Finding and securing a mentor isn’t always easy. But if you hit a roadblock, try not to get discouraged. Consider these tips and continue making strides toward becoming a better worker and professional.