Dec 13

The Value of a Great Mentor

Great mentors are worth their weight in gold. They can be the best cheerleaders yet, at the same time, are not afraid to remind you when you are headed in the wrong direction.

Mentors serve as sounding boards and often draw from their own experience to help you avoid common pitfalls as you explore post-military career options.

You may wonder why senior leaders would need a mentor…

You may wonder why senior leaders would need a mentor, especially since you likely are, or have been, a mentor to at least one person coming up behind you. As you prepare to leave behind a long career in military service, a mentor can help you pinpoint professional opportunities you might not have considered and provide invaluable advice to help you more quickly and successfully integrate into a new professional environment quite different from where you’ve been.

The mentoring relationship might develop organically or could be something you seek out. Your mentor might be a former boss or colleague who  appreciated your work and shared sound advice throughout your military career. Conversely, a mentor might be someone you haven’t yet met, who can engage with you in a purely objective manner, without any ‘skin in the game.’

The best mentoring arrangements involve two individuals equally committed to the process – the mentor and the individual on the receiving end of the mentoring. Establishing rules of engagement such as times to meet or speak can help make the most out of your time together. Some mentoring relationships have a finite duration while others remain open-ended.

This week, I wanted to share two free mentoring programs that may be of interest to you or someone you know:

The first, Joining Forces Mentoring Plus, is open to women veterans and female military/veteran spouses. The program provides an opportunity to be matched with mentors working in professional fields or with specific skill sets of potential interest. Mentors can review resumes, provide guidance in the job search, offer useful workplace strategies and other helpful resources. To sign up for a mentor, women veterans and military spouses can visit: www.joiningforcesmentoringplus.org

The other national mentoring program I wanted to mention is American Corporate Partners. There are roughly 40 major corporations currently providing mentors for this year-long mentoring program, including companies such as Boeing, Cargill, General Electric, Intel Corporation, Lockheed Martin and many more. According to the ACP web site, “Veterans who have served on active duty in any branch of service since 2001, and spouses of those wounded or killed in action are eligible to apply… Preference is given to those with service-connected disabilities.” For more information, please visit: www.acp-usa.org

No matter where you find your mentor – on your own or through a formal program – remember that the more you put into the mentoring relationship, the more you will get out of it. Be open to the advice you receive and appreciative of the mentor’s time and commitment to helping you achieve equal, if not greater, success in your next career. And, of course, don’t forget to pay it forward.


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