Why Women Need Mentors (And Where to Find One)
In business, it’s not just what you know — who you know matters, too. That’s why mentorship through platforms like Virago Network is such a valuable tool for professional women. Whether it’s connecting with women who have been in your shoes or finding an ally at work, mentorship can be the launch point for women’s career advancement.
With so much to gain, why have 63% of women never had a formal mentor? Most women don’t know where to start. 44% of organizations lack a mentorship program and in many companies, there simply aren’t enough senior women to go around. Finding a suitable mentor shouldn’t feel like a wild goose chase for women at work. Here’s how you can find a mentor to help your career.
How Mentorship Helps Women’s Careers
It’s a well-established fact that the people you surround yourself with influence your growth. So when you want to propel yourself to the next level, it makes sense to partner with someone who’s already achieved the success you’re chasing. When women team up with a mentor, they benefit from improved:
- Career development
- Personal development
- Job satisfaction
- Workplace confidence
Mentors achieve this through personalized career guidance and support. A mentor helps a mentee develop a structured path for career development, identify professional development and networking opportunities, and learn how to balance professional and personal demands.
Mentors may also serve as sponsors. Sponsors use their influence to advocate for and advance the career of their sponsee. Unlike mentorship, which occurs one-on-one with a mentee, sponsorship generally takes place behind closed doors with senior leaders. A sponsor may be another woman but there are benefits to finding a male sponsor.
Where to Find a Mentor
Where do you find a mentor if your company isn’t among the 56% with a formal mentorship program? External mentorship resources help women find a suitable mentor outside their organization.
Take Virago Network for example. This global community of professional women not only helps members connect with other working women and industry leaders, but it also spotlights women leaders so there’s always a fresh dose of inspiration.
Virago Network isn’t the only mentoring network for women. Whether you’re in business, tech, science, academia, or another field, there’s probably a mentorship program for you. Here’s where to look when you need a mentor:
- Your existing professional network.
- Professional associations in your industry.
- SCORE (for small business mentorship).
- Career counseling services specific to your career goals.
Don’t rule out finding a mentor within your company. Even without a formal mentorship program, it’s possible to establish a mentor relationship with a female leader at work. If there’s a woman you admire, reach out. Explain why you’re interested in her work and what you hope to gain from a mentorship relationship. It’s also important to make sure a mentor is the right fit before making the ask.
How to Make the Most of Mentorship
Choosing the right mentor is important, but that’s not the only factor influencing the success of a mentorship. It’s also up to you to be a good mentee.
- Have well-defined goals. While your mentor helps with the roadmap, it’s up to you to know where you want to go. Keep your goals realistic and time-constrained and enter the mentorship with a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.
- Respect your mentor’s time. Mentoring is just one of many responsibilities on a professional’s plate. Establish a timeframe for your mentorship relationship, follow a consistent meeting schedule, set agendas, and use email to keep your mentor updated between face-to-face meetings.
- Be open to feedback. Hearing criticism is never easy, but sometimes mentorship comes with hard truths. Learn how to accept feedback, both positive and negative, without letting emotion take over. Take notes to help you implement constructive criticism rather than brushing it aside.
It’s difficult to accept that working harder isn’t always enough to get ahead. But when you’re a woman at work, you can’t afford not to use every tool in your kit. Whether you need career planning advice or a cheerleader in the workplace, take the leap and find a mentor. With the experience, wisdom, and influence of a mentor, you can finally take the steps to get ahead in your career.
For more resources for growth and stories that inspire, explore the Virago Network website!
9 TED Talks Every College Grad Needs to Hear on Life, Money, and Career Success
If you’ve just graduated, congratulations! This may be one of the most important achievements leading up to this day. You’ve finally checked off everything you needed on your class list, and you’re ready to jump right into a career. Or, you may be wondering what you’d like to do with your degree.
Graduation can sometimes be a weird stage of your life. Instead of attending classes with your closest classmates, you may be heading to meetings. You may be wondering if you’d like to get right out into the real world, or wait it out. Either way, the world is finally your oyster, and you get to go out and make the most of it.
Post-college you may be asking yourself the hard questions. For instance, should you get a roommate or live on your own? What career path should you take your degree? Do you want to stay in the town you reside in, or move across the country? What should your monthly budget now look like? The world is your oyster — you’re now able to do what you want, when you want, and how you want without having school in the picture.
During uncertain times, you may find yourself stressing about this more than normal. From figuring out what area you’d like to apply your degree, to moving across the country, or even learning how to live on your own. Sometimes, getting your feet on the ground can be a little shocking. Even though college may have taught you a lot, there may have been some things that have fallen through the cracks. From how to manage your life, money, and passionate projects like a boss.
Career Tips You Wish They Taught in School
Honestly, school may not have taught you everything you wanted to or needed to know. For instance, how to balance your checkbook, or even how to nail an interview. You may have got a degree in something that’s just not right for you. If you find yourself wary of what you want to do after college, you may want to take a gap year, or learn how to make a career change if you later choose to take a different path.
When I first started out of college, along with many of my classmates, this was a stressful question. You feel like you’re committing your life to your first job. It does show an impact on your resume, but it doesn’t have to control your entire career journey. Not to mention, setting the right goals to reach the career of your dreams and making sure you perfect your skills that you’re passionate learning about.
Money Advice to Make You Humbly Rich
Most of the time, we get out of college and you think you’re going to be rich. You definitely may find a career path that pays well, and you may not have to pay any debt back. But, for those of us that have student debt, and may not have been paid what we thought we would right out of the gate, you may be looking for money management resources. To get rich, you may have to exercise the habit of being smart with your money.
To save more and spend less, you have to trick your mind into saving more money and switch around your money language. Turns out, if you think and talk about your money goals you want to reach in future tense, you may not be likely to meet them. Instead, think about your goals as if they are in the present day. Not to mention, learning and changing your money habits. Who knows, you may use shopping as your therapy, and you may not have actually been honest with yourself. You most likely aren’t able to fix something you don’t know needs to be fixed.
Life Advice Straight from the Experts
Growing up can be a culture shock — especially when you’re coming out of college. Most of the time, when you’re in college you’re surrounded by those going through the same things as you. You many feel comfortable asking questions, working together, and trying to understand the in’s and out’s. But, when you step foot into the workplace, you may be working with people of all ages and experience levels.
You could be working with CEO’s, directors, associates, and clients from all over the world. Not only can this be intimidating for some, it could also hold you back from asking questions you want or need to ask. You may be faced with hard questions you never thought you’d have to make, or even break habits you’ve had for years.