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  • Alexander Akinbile

You can’t do it alone: the power of mentorship when getting your foot in the door

If I wanted to perform in the Royal Ballet London, I would probably have to attend an elite dance school run by a dance instructor who is a retired performer. If I wanted to play Premier League football, I would probably have to be in an academy at a young age, coached by a former player. Even in school we rely on revision notes and our reading, but we need guidance from teachers who have sat the same exams to master exam topics, technique, and structure. We wouldn’t get into a car and do a driving test without 20 hours of practice with an instructor who knows how to drive, the test routes, and the tips for success. Some of us might even reach out to an older sibling, cousin, or parent for advice on life in general and they give us insights into their experiences. Sometimes they don’t have the answers but sometimes they do. It’s human instinct to reach out for help or seek guidance before doing something which is foreign to us.

If we know this and do this in many aspects of our lives, why do we not take the same precautions when it comes to progressing in our professional careers, especially when we try to get into extremely competitive and illustrious careers. Mentorship is a powerful tool in enabling us, as individuals, to break into new grounds, move through the ranks, and even letting us know when to leave.

Getting a foot in the door – an exclusive introduction

A mentor can offer you an unique introduction to a firm or an industry. If you have spent time developing a connection, a mentor is often more than happy to help you get a foot in the door. Often, as students we want all the answers and we want them immediately, but a good mentor can show you the processes and methods that have made them successful and you can simply tweak said strategies to match your personality or the current landscape. This is crucial especially when you are trying to make a name for yourself. There is usually specific information about a firm, that is not publicly available, that a mentor can inform you of, which will help set you apart from the rest of the crowd. A good mentor will go a step further and give you an exclusive introduction to people at the firm. As they introduce you to people, your network grows and it will enable you to separate yourself even further. Even if they are not as well connected or do not offer this, having someone who has seen success and is able to guide you on how to submit a strong application or ace an interview will be more beneficial then any resources available online.

Showing you the ropes – the necessary processes

At times, the power of knowing where to look can be more important than how. Understanding exactly what is required of you or exactly what you want will lead to a greater outcome than hours of unfocused work. For example, if you are about to sit an English exam on Shakespeare, understanding that the majority of questions will be focused on Macbeth will enable you to focus your revision specifically on Macbeth as opposed to spending far longer trying to cram in as much knowledge on all the works of Shakespeare that you have studied. To take it a step further, having someone who understands the mark scheme will enable you to tailor your answers to tick all the boxes. This is what a good mentor will be able to do for you. In terms of a career, they will help you to focus your research, knowledge base, and skill set based on the qualities which are heavily required for the job they already do. They will enable you to be more streamlined and be able to think on a macro level about your future whilst helping you to avoid all the little mistakes that trip up so many young people. Thus helping you to achieve the desired outcome in the most efficient way.

Fear of the unknown – an evaluation before you start

We can all agree that if we could see into the future, see how our careers would pan out, we would be better equipped to avoid costly mistakes and take full advantage of life-changing opportunities. Well, this is a mentor! Someone who has been on the journey you are about to partake on and can tell you which doors are trapped doors and which have treasure behind them. If we correctly utilise our mentors and they have our best interests at heart, they can essentially help us see into the future. We can utilise their insights to make better decisions for our future regarding how to get into an industry, how to maximise university, what firms to apply to, when to move firms, when to leave the industry, when to ask for a promotion or raise, or whatever critical steps we are about to take but have no understanding of the outcome of that step will be. With greater information, we can make better decisions!

The best have mentors, and they are the best because they have mentors

The power of mentorship is often overlooked and many of us think we can smash it without help and just hard work, but mentors are a crucial element of success. There is evidence in all walks of life of successful professionals, athletes, entertainers not just having, but utilising mentors to reach another level!

Now that you understand the importance of having a mentor, the next step is to secure one. BSC Mentors is here to help. Our mentors are dedicated to helping you achieve success, they have been where you are, and they have a lot of wisdom to share.

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