I do not love the word mentor. That’s because it’s actually a dude’s name. Mentor. So saying mentoring is a lot like saying “oh, I was rogered at work today,” which British people will assure you is not a desirable thing. But the activity that we all use the word mentor to describe is useful, and it’s bidirectional.
Having a good mentor within your company – ideally someone in your basic part of the company, but not in your direct line of reports – can be invaluable. They can help you better understand company culture, spot opportunities from further away (so you have time to position yourself for them), offer advice and a sounding board when you need it, and help you understand the personalities of the company higher-ups. Mentors can provide invaluable recommendations when you’re ready to move up, and if you share your definition of “success” with them, they can help steer you toward it.
Being a mentor is also valuable. And… oh, wait. Let’s get this out of the way.
YOU ABSOLUTELY DO KNOW ENOUGH THINGS TO BE A MENTOR FOR SOMEONE ELSE, PLEASE TAKE YOUR IMPOSTER SYNDROME OUT BACK AND SHOOT IT IN THE HEAD, THANKS.
OK. Being a mentor is valuable, too. You get a different perspective on your company and your own career. You’re helping to uplift someone else, which is immensely satisfying. You’re often forced to think about things in a new way, which is good for all of us. You’ll improve your communication skills. You’ll start thinking about people as people, and you’ll start gaining empathy for other people’s perspectives, goals, and challenges.
And if you’re really, really lucky, one of the people you’ve mentored (I refuse to use “mentee,” because Mentor’s student was named Telemachus, not Mentee) will support you as you move through your career. And if you’re really blessed, they’ll surpass you. Trust me, there’s no greater feeling than seeing someone you’ve helped tae full advantage of it and rise to the heights they’ve earned.