Importance of mentors in your career, do you have one?

Posted On June 19,2019

Good academic scores – check, good extra-curricular activities - check, cracked campus placement – check. Fast forward 5 years – feeling stuck in the rat race? Do not know what you’re doing at work and more importantly why you’re doing it, if your answer is ‘Yes’, this blog is for you.

I have 12+ years of professional experience but I have no shame in admitting that I still get confused (at times) about where my career is heading. It comes down to two simple things – the ‘what’ and the ‘why’. I go through this phase of soul searching but end up with more questions, than answers. This is where I need a sounding board and this is not friends or family most of the time. This is someone who has been there and done that, someone who can give you an unbiased view of the world and critique your judgement/decision making process. In other words, this is your ‘Mentor’.

The paragraphs that follow, throw some more light on how you can embark on the journey of finding your perfect mentor.

Who is a Mentor?

A mentor is someone, who can help you navigate the conundrum of making decisions with regards to your career. And by career, I mean anything in relation to your career, even your personal life, for e.g. if your role involves too much travel, it impacts your family and social life. A mentor can be someone from the same organisation that you’re working with or someone who you met outside work. The most important point to note here is that, the mentor and mentee relationship needs to ‘click’. You will know what I mean when you find a mentor who you click with. 

How to approach a Mentor?

Even before approaching a mentor, you need to find one. The question you need to ask yourself is, ‘why do you want this person to be your mentor?’ Do you aspire to be like him/her? Do you like the way he/she runs the organisation. There are no hard and fast rules here, identify two or three things that you want to learn from that person. Now that you have identified a mentor, how do you approach one? Simple – be honest. Say you are at crossroads in your career, you have the talent but it needs direction and you believe he/she is your guardian angel. Don’t make it a formal discussion – it is a big No. Lastly, find someone who is not part of your business unit/line of business but understands your line of work. They turn out to be the best source of guidance.

What to discuss?

Anything and everything in relation to your career – transparency is the key. You need to be an open book, for the mentor to know you inside out and a sponge to unlearn and learn things simultaneously. Like in any relationship, this is a two-way street – you need to give time, plan properly and have a goal in mind, else this ends up being a chit chat and ultimately you or the mentor will lose interest.

Note: do not feel obliged to be a mentee, just because you had a few catch ups with a potential mentor. It is better to call it quits early, rather than carry on something, if either party is not really committed – you will figure this out pretty quickly.

I personally have two mentors, who come from different backgrounds and bring a different perspective on my queries or challenges. We meet over coffee, lunch or at times over a 5 min phone call.

They say ‘it is not where you start, but where you end, that matters’ – a good mentor can definitely ensure that the ‘end’ is worthwhile.

Feel free to reach out to me at if you would like to know more about my journey and how my mentors have been priceless, in shaping up my career.
Author: Ritu Raj Das, Co–Founder, Skill Prodigy

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