Why You Need A Mentor

By Erica Jabouin Knight

Mentor- ship is an important topic for me. As my career and personal life flourished, I became more aware of the role mentor-ship played in my own life.

I asked myself, “is a person ever too young or too old to have a mentor?” Well I had to first determine what a mentor was. A mentor: an experienced and trusted adviser." (Dictionary description.)

Mentors have come in and out of my life, from the time I was ten years old to the present time. Being a 34 year old professional, I did not always know my teachers were mentors, as I was unfamiliar with the word. However later in life, I recognize that many of my mentors had been teachers and family members.

Mentors will guide you through the many questions you might have, the uncertainties, and creating your steps towards your success; whether it be professionally or personally. Some will be strict teachers, harsh critique, but more importantly, they will cheer you on. Who doesn't need an individual in their corners telling them they can do it? Someone who has walked the walk, and talk the talk. Think of them as your personal encyclopedia.

To think of it, I am always much more successful and more confident when I have a mentor by my side. Someone, I hand picked. Hence why I am writing to you and advocating for you to have a mentor.

For example, while going back to university at the age of twenty-nine, I knew I needed to redesign my career and strategy. I was in NYC on a student visa and was terrified of interviewing for the positions I wanted. While in my Fashion- Event Class, my teacher who was from Italy mentioned two things The first thing was, she was a student from Italy attending a school in NYC. The second was that she was a mentor to many students. Throughout her class, I learned more about this teacher, her career and soon realized I wanted her to guide me. We were the same age, but this individual had a lot to teach me. She became my motivator while I applied and went on many interviews. Six months later, I was offered a position and was able to apply for my work visa.  The lesson here:

  1. I aligned myself with someone who would understand my struggles as an international student.

  2. She was the same age as me, and yet I felt even more inspired by her. I was not ashamed to ask for her help. 3- At that point, I was thirty-one years old, and I was not afraid of starting over.)

Here are my Five Reason you should have a mentor:

  1. Becoming the protegee of someone you aspire to emulate.   

  2. The opportunity to learn from someone who has a direct connection with an industry you want to pursue.

  3. Access to a network of other professionals and resources.

  4. A personal cheerleader, who will take pride in your accomplishments.

  5. An individual you can always count on to provide you an honest input on things you are undertaking.

Mentors are found in your work space, churches, schools, and other organizations you might involve in. The key is to pinpoint a person you admire, and feel can teach you. Secondly, all it takes is to ask that individual if they would like to mentor you.

As stated in the introduction, mentor-ship is a big one for me. As I have seen hands down, what partnering with a dedicated mentor has contributed to my personal and professional growth. As knowledge is power and sharing is caring; I am promoting the importance of seeking mentor ship.  I urge individuals of any age group, of any walk of life to find themselves a mentor. Simply because it works.