Help me help other architects! This blog is an excerpt from the first draft of my book: Breaking the Box: Explode out of Architecture School to a Successful Career as an Architect. You can help make it better by leaving a critique in the comment section below. Thx you rock! -Steve
In part 1, I introduced you to 3 types of mentors:
In this section we will discuss:
A direct mentor is a mentorship in the most formal sense. With a direct mentorship you establish a mentor/mentee relationship and meet regularly to discuss goals and progress. The mentor should be someone who is more advanced and ideally, your mentor has served a role that you would like to be in one day. In this article, I share the importance of a direct mentor and provide steps for getting started.
In addition to having professional admiration for your mentor, it is also important that you genuinely like this person. You will be spending a lot of time with your mentor therefore you want it to be a pleasant experience.
How can a mentor help you grow?
- A mentor can be your accountability partner. Example: Are you keeping all of your commitments and reaching your goals?
- A mentor can provide long-term advice. Example: Does your current architecture firm align with your long-term goals?
- A mentor can provide short-term advice. Example: Should you take your LEED AP exam before starting the A.R.E. exams?
- A mentor can help you deal with mistakes. Example: You acted on emotions and sent a damaging email to your colleagues. You reprimanded a colleague and cc’ed the entire team. How can you fix this?
- A mentor can share their network. Example: If you are thinking of switching jobs your more experienced mentor is likely to have greater connections that could be beneficial to your job search.
It is likely that your mentor will have had similar experiences and will be happy to provide guidance. And sometimes it is just nice to have a sounding board. Example: This person at work is driving me crazy……ahhh!!!!!!
So how do you find a mentor? And how should the relationship work? The steps listed below provide a roadmap to a successful mentorship.
6 Tips for Starting a Direct Mentorship
Brainstorm where you would like to be in 5, 10 and 20 years. In addition to your professional goals, you should also consider all aspects of your life: family, community, spiritual, health, etc. Write those goals down.
2. Connect the Dots
In step 1, you may have visualized yourself as someone you know. For example: I would like to be like Sam in 5 years, like my sister in 10 years and like Oprah in 20 years. Dream big!
Create a list of these people that have achieved similar goals. This is your list of potential mentors.
3. Reach Out
Contact the folks on your list. Explain that you have respect for their career and that one-day you would like to be in a similar role. Share with them your passions and where you would like to go. Then ask them if they could help you by serving as a mentor. Cross your fingers!
Develop a schedule to regularly meet with the mentor. You will need to be pro-active about scheduling these meetings, as your mentor will likely have a much busier schedule. Once a month or once a quarter is a good frequency for regular meetings. In addition to regular meetings, you should feel comfortable reaching out to your mentor whenever a special circumstance occurs.
5. Develop Goals
In step #1 you developed long-term goals. Start with your 5-year plan and break it into smaller incremental milestones. What milestones need to occur to reach those 5-year goals? Work with your mentor to refine and reach your goals.
How to Make Effective Goals
An effective goal must have 2 things: #1 Quantifiable Results and #2 a Schedule. “I want to gain more experience in construction documents,” is not an effective goal. There is no way to objectively measure your progress. An effective goal would be: “I want to pass the CDT exam by June 1st.” The quantifiable result is passing the CDT exam and the schedule is by June 1st.
6. Say Thank You
This person has agreed to help you. They will be happy to help, yet you should still remind them of your gratitude. One of my goals every day is to say thank you as much as I can. It shows people that you care and it feels good for you. Win, win!
Think Smarter Not Harder
A direct mentor is a valuable tool that will help you achieve your goals and live a more impactful life. I have merely scratched the surface and hope that you take
this roadmap and tailor it to your preference. I would also love to hear how mentors have impacted your life.