Mentorship

mentorship_pic.jpg

When I hear the word “mentor”, my mind immediately goes to the TV series 30 Rock. The heart of the show is the relationship between Liz Lemon, head writer of a variety show, and her boss, Jack Donaghy.  Jack is Liz’s mentor and offers his advice on everything ranging from her choice in footwear to her taking a corporate role at the network. When faced with losing Lemon as his “mentee”,  Jack looks for another employee to impart his wisdom on but struggles to find anyone who meets his strict criteria.

Drive, Intelligence, Humility, Chaos. Or the acronym DIHC. I’m looking for DIHC…and I’m gonna take it wherever I can find it.
— 30 Rock, "Gentlemen's Intermission", November 4, 2010

This acronym, while hilarious, does list traits that are important when looking for a mentorship. In particular, finding the “D”. Having the drive to succeed at work can be difficult, especially if your job is a stepping stone to your dream career or is just to pay the bills. But even in positions that are tedious or out of your field, showing up on time and doing your best shows a lot about you as an employee and can be a way to humbly show yourself off to higher ups.

Last year I was a data entry temp processing health insurance applications. Each day at my desk there would be a new stack of paperwork waiting. Until one day, there wasn’t. I was asked upstairs to the audit department and the entire elevator ride I racked my brain. What had I done to bungle this assignment so badly? I later learned I wasn’t being penalized, but promoted! My OCD tendency to triple check my work paid off when I was asked to triple check other people’s work instead.

During this time I got to know senior employees who I otherwise would not have met.  One of whom was my supervisor and my own Jack Donaghy. In addition to showing me the ropes, this woman acted as my ‘work friend and mom’. She offered life advice as well as strategies to extend my assignment from short term to longer term. Had it not been for her guidance and kind words on my behalf, my time with the company would have been far shorter and far less fulfilling.

Mentors come in different forms. Colleagues, trusted friends, or even paid professionals, can all make an impact on your career, so long as you have the drive to make an impact on them first.