When you are first starting out in your career, it is really easy to recognize that you could use a little help. Seeking out a mentor feels like a natural step to advance your career and help you avoid pitfalls.
However, a recent article in FastCompany called "Why You Need a Different Mentor at Every Stage in Your Career" by David Lumb, makes a wonderful case for always having a mentor, no matter how established you are in your field. Lumb says in his article,
"As workers get into the power curve of their careers in their 30s and 40s, some think they’re done learning. That’s wrong, says Bergelson, who paraphrases the teachings of Marshall Goldsmith: "The skills that got you this promotion will not get you to the next promotion." In other words, those workers who continue to learn will outperform their peers. Regularly seeking mentors, then, is a sign of employable fitness."
The article recommends that you usually look for a mentor about 3 to 5 years ahead of you in your career, because these mentors will have just navigated the minefields you are entering and will be able to relate to you.
However, in the later stages of your career, you may actually want to consider finding a much younger mentor.
Of course, the idea of seeking out wisdom from someone new to the working world may seem outlandish. However, at this stage in your life, you're not actually looking for wisdom and experience to guide you. Instead, you are seeking out fresh perspectives to keep you relevant and in touch with modern trends. This concept of finding a younger person to learn from at the later stages of your career is referred to as reverse mentoring.
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