Mentee seeking Mentor
Does your company have a formal mentorship program? While some larger engineering firms have made efforts to form employee development programs, not all firms have a formal program in place to guide young or even experienced engineers toward needed growth and improvement. If your company does not offer a mentorship program, make it your goal to seek out your own mentor!
Typically, mentorship programs are most successful when they are driven by the mentee’s desire to self-improve. Since you are your own best advocate, there is no reason why you can’t acquire your own mentor, even if one is not provided by your company. This may even work to your advantage, since you will have complete control over who you consider as a possible mentor.
First, consider those within your organization who may be a step ahead of you in the hierarchy of your company. While it may be tempting to shoot for someone at the top, your mentor should serve as a stepping stone to boost you to the next level of success. If your company is very small, and there are not many degrees of separation between the top and bottom, you may need to search outside your company. Often times, professional organizations such as SEI, NCSEA or ASCE offer many opportunities to volunteer for committees where you may meet engineers who could be suitable candidates.
Once you’ve found a potential mentor, simply ask if he/she has the availability to meet with you occasionally to answer questions, gain insight into their daily tasks, and guide you on ways to improve your skills. Asking another engineer for help, may seem uncomfortable, however, showing an initiative to improve one’s skills is always applauded. Experienced engineers may not offer unsolicited advice to avoid sounding bossy or self-important, but when asked, their knowledge and past mistakes can be great learning tools for you.
A successful career in engineering takes time and energy to seek out the positive influences and guidance of knowledgeable colleagues who encourage our curiosity. Without such mentors, success can seem elusive and distant. Take the initiative, and find your own mentor… it might just launch you into the next phase of your career!