When people wonder whether it is worth the time and money to earn a degree, some reasons go above and beyond the credentials earned. They also get access to experts who are able to guide and teach them about the real world. They can roleplay real-life and pause for student questions or correct their decision-making. In addition to teachers and professors, there are also coaches and other adults who might encourage along the way. These people are called mentors. 

A mentor is someone who has invaluable experience to pass along to a protegee. Because they have already made mistakes and learned from them, they can share that knowledge with others, sparing them years of heartache, time, and money. They are a guiding hand to help people find their true passions, business goals, and how to follow them. 

In addition, people who have been in the business world are more intuitive about decision-making from years of exchanges with other professionals. This also means they are a great networking resource. Guidance, connections, and support are the primary reasons to seek a mentor, but it’s essential to choose someone in your chosen field who is a good match. They should have a positive track record of helping others, have an open-minded attitude about helping, and genuinely enjoy teaching. Patience, empathy, and diplomacy are also what to look for, since you will be working closely together.

Keep in mind that a mentor’s job is not to answer googleable questions, tell you what to do, or hold your hand. Their job is to guide you as you learn to trust your gut instincts, validate your progress, and prevent you from going down the wrong path early on. This is the time to throw aside your ego and ask as many questions as possible.

There are many ways that a mentor-mentee relationship can begin. Sometimes they happen naturally, such as in college. Professors will spot an exceptional student and offer to mentor them outside of school. Other times it might happen organically through friends and family. Without having any starting point, however, there are also communities online that can help. 

Clarity is a fee-based meeting space that connects professionals with potential mentees, organized by industry. Ten Thousand Coffees further streamlines the process by letting people create a profile and what type of guidance they are searching for. There is also a searchable database of professionals for browsing.