As a military member getting ready for transition, you’re frequently told to find a mentor. Many Influencers on social media will tell you it’s a requirement for your post-military success, along with growing your network and seeking informational interviews.
And from a common-sense standpoint, this advice makes sense, right? There’s value in learning from other peoples’ perspectives and experiences—particularly if they’re other veterans who have “been there and done that.”
But there’s an important follow-on discussion to this advice that never seems to get the attention it deserves—namely, making sure you’re set up for success before you find a mentor. At the root of mentoring is an information exchange, and if you’re not ready ahead of time, much of the efficacy will be lost—which will negatively impact you.
And that’s precisely why I wrote this article—so you can avoid the two biggest mistakes when seeking a mentor, and so you can ensure the exchange is a great experience for you and your mentor. The more prepared you are, the better the interaction. The better the interaction, the better the result and the more likely this mentor will be willing to help you again.
The Two Biggest Mistakes You’re Making When Seeking a Mentor
Mistake #1—Not Approaching Mentoring in the Right Light
Our research indicates that many of you who are getting ready for transition aren’t really sure what you want to do once you leave the military. While we understand how the uncertainty of leaving the military may cloud or complicate the decision-making process, it’s really important that you not burden a potential mentor with helping you figure out what you want to do with your life, post-military. That is not their job—it’s your job. Once you’ve figured that out, or at least spent some good time figuring out yourself and your wants, finding a mentor in that field or area of interest is highly beneficial. So, be sure to approach mentoring in the right light. They are there to help you develop an idea or plan that you’re hatching. They aren’t there to provide that idea or plan for you.
Mistake #2—Not Putting in the Work Before You Talk to a Mentor
Going hand-in-hand with approaching mentoring in the right light is making sure you are putting in the work before talking to any mentor. Adding a layer of specificity; what we’re referring to is spending time figuring out who you are and what you want to do, post-military. We know this can be challenging because, by deliberate design, the military removed some of your individuality at boot camp and replaced it with a group ethos that turned you into a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine. Because of that, it may be hard to reconnect with things you want in life—but it needs to be done before you find that mentor or the exchange will be much less effective.
Want Help? PreVeteran Can Help You Figure Out What You Want to Do
At PreVeteran, we follow the data. The data tells us that 90%+ of you will become employees after leaving the military. Within that segment, 60-70% of you will become employees in the private sector.
Knowing these numbers, our approach is to help you channel your self-discovery from an employment standpoint. We do this through our Employment Prep course, which is a 5-week program that provides you with the framework, individual tools, and support to systematically pare down roles in the private sector you can be successful in, post-military.
In week one of our 5-week curriculum, you’re given practical step-by-step instructions for how to reach out to that potential mentor, what to ask him or her, and how that feeds directly into your post-military employment success. To sign up for our next course or join the waitlist, click on this link.
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