Part of your career progression is learning through trial and error. But isn’t it nice to learn from someone who’s already been there? They get what it takes to stay as organized as you do, to book travel at the last minute, to take copious meeting minutes and to deal with tough office personalities. And they probably have tips for doing it better, and faster. So, why not build a relationship with a mentor to grow your career?
A great mentor serves as an informal coach to share knowledge, give advice on specific situations, and offer guidance and feedback. Your mentor might be another more seasoned administrative assistant or someone in a different department or company. In short, it’s someone who’s been there, and will help get you get there.
Finding a Mentor
There are many ways to find your mentor. Check to see if your company has a formal mentorship program. If so, that’s an easy way to be paired up with someone more senior who can talk you through your professional development. If not, set up a more casual arrangement with someone you respect from around the office. There’s a lot you can learn from people who have taken similar paths.
Try attending local networking events to meet potential mentors, or search on LinkedIn to find people in your area who might be a good match. It never hurts to send an email introducing yourself with an invitation to coffee or lunch. A little legwork on your part could lead to a valuable mentoring relationship. Another great resource is Mentors and Masterminds, a social network designed to help administrative assistants build relationships to support their career growth.
Creating a Mentor Relationship
The key to building a successful mentoring relationship is to meet regularly. Find ways to accommodate your mentor’s schedule by grabbing lunch or a quick coffee when they’re free. But try to meet once a month if you can so you stay on each other’s radar. Each time you get together, you should come prepared with a defined agenda. Be upfront about what you hope to get out of the mentoring relationship so that your mentor can offer you useful guidance.
You don’t have to stick to coffee and lunch every time you see your mentor. And you don’t even have to kick things off that way if it feels too stiff for your personality. Shake up your mentorship routine with different activities to get to know each other and build on your relationship. Try some of these activities:
- Take a walk: Try a lap around a local park or stroll through your favorite museum.
- Volunteer for a cause: Pick a charity close to your heart and volunteer your time, just make sure you’ll be able to talk throughout your time volunteering.
- Attend a conference: Find an industry conference that you can both learn from, sit in on seminars, and discuss the material. Not only will you have topics to talk about, but you’ll also have additional networking opportunities through each other.
- Go to a cocktail hour: Take a more casual approach to your mentorship and attend a cocktail hour near one of your workplaces. Just make sure to eat and keep your alcohol intake in check.
If you’re not sure how to get the conversation started, start off by asking your mentor how they began their career paths, what their passions are, or what they do in their free time. Asking about what their career goals were and what they care about not only helps you learn from them, but also helps you build a personal connection. As you build a relationship with your mentor, it will become easier to discuss your career goals and seek advice and your mentor will better understand what you are looking to achieve. Which will ultimately help her provide you with stronger advice. Just make sure that you also ask if it’s okay to continue reaching out with questions or setting up meetings.
Learn more about how you can advance your career as an admin.