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Where to Find a Mentor for Your Career Change

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 6 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Mentor Career Career Change Friends

Finding a mentor who can guide you through the trials and tribulations of a career change is certainly an important factor in your potential success. Of course, it’s great to be able to say, "I did this all by myself", but, if you find the right mentor, they will encourage and support you far more than is possible alone.

What Makes a Good Mentor?

The key issue is finding the right mentor. A good mentor is someone you can trust, who inspires you and knows about the industry you are planning to work in. That doesn’t mean that they have to be a complete expert in your new field, but they do need to have an awareness of the industry and be experienced in the type of career you’re moving into.

This might mean that your mentor has experience in Running A Restaurant and you’re looking to Open A Coffee Shop, or your mentor may have been a financial advisor and you’re Starting Your Own Business. The most important thing is that you find them fair, inspiring and helpful – a mentor that’s using your need for their help as a way to fuel their own ego is no help at all!

There is nothing wrong with actively looking to find a mentor. Most people love being asked their opinion and sharing what they know, so it’s a mutually beneficial situation.

Ask Around

The best place to start is to ask around your friends. Although it’s unlikely that someone from your peer group will be a suitable mentor, their parents or relatives might be. If you already know of a relative that has experience in your new field, you could start by asking if they would like to go for a coffee with you to talk about your possible new venture. If you feel that they might be a good mentor, there’s nothing wrong with coming straight out with it! Say something like, "I’d really appreciate being able to pick your brain while I get my business up and running," and see how they respond.

Networking Groups

If you don’t have a suitable mentor from your circle of friends, you could try joining a Networking Group. Although most people there will have their own agenda for growing and promoting their business, you could be open to the fact that you’re looking for a mentor and see what happens.

Further Education

Your old university or high school is also a great place to find a mentor. However long ago it was that you left, most places are pleased to hear from old students. They are often in touch with ex-teachers and lectures, perhaps those that have retired that may love a new ‘voluntary project’ to get their teeth stuck into.

Online Communities

Online Networking And Social Networking Sites can also be great places to meet people that have something to offer to your business. It’s not really a good plan to go into a new forum or online community with all guns blazing, asking for a mentor. Better to join up to a community that’s relevant to your business and get to know how it works first, that way you’ll be able to build relationships with people.

Business Link

Finally, don’t forget your local Business Link. This Government-funded operation has great presence across the UK and you can usually get a representative to come at speak to you at your home or office. Although they may not turn out to be a suitable mentor, they can probably advise you on other people to speak to or helpful groups to join.

Funding Your Career Change

If money concerns are holding you back from making a career change, there are many ways you can get financial support. Find out more in our article Where To Get Help With Funding.

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