Professionally, I am an orphan.
Since beginning my career almost a year ago, I have roamed this city in search of a career caregiver to take me in and teach me the ways of these New York streets.
Mentors play a fundamental role in one’s professional and personal path. No matter the industry, these individuals have the ability to leverage connections, provide valuable insight and ultimately catapult your career in a number of ways. They’ve been where you want to be, had the jobs, experienced the events, and rubbed elbows with the people you’ve always dreamed of crossing paths with; with all of this, it goes without saying why mentor are invaluable.
My desire for mentorship has caused me to take matters into my own hands and force… I mean… place myself in environments where I would hope to meet my mentor. I’ve sent cold emails, set up lunch dates, and reached out to ways end in hopes of a possible spark to ignite, and still now mentor.
I will admit: I’ve was thirsty.
As the universe would have it, there was one incident during the peak of my new-New Yorker eagerness that would alter my entire perspective on the whole mentorship concept, forever.
I had the extreme pleasure of sitting down with an individual in the fashion industry whom I have looked up to for years. The conversation was flowing, advice as pouring, and as our conversation came close to an end, I had to make a move. I couldn’t let this moment pass by without shooting my shot with them, I mean, who knows the next time we would be sitting across from one another again.
I asked him flat out, “Can you be my mentor?”, and y’all, the look on his face was similar to that of someone being asked out to the prom by an unappetizing suitor.
Where did I go wrong? He told me to shoot my shot, so I did! It took me months to recover from this fumble and although it was a difficult lesson to learn, I can now share why you shouldn’t so thirsty for a mentor:
Mentorship is similar to marriage: in every aspect, minus the ceremony. You wouldn’t just walk up to a stranger who you only know from following them on Instagram, to marry you after meeting them in person once? You need to court them, go out for coffee or an event of similar interest a few times to see if you all are even compatible. I learned that mentor-mentee relationships should occur organically, and takes the willing participation of both parties to maintain the relationship. If only one person is doing all the work, it will fail. If you all are not a good fit, it will fail. Make sure you do the hard work first before jumping into your mentorship too quickly. If done correctly, you both could have a long life of companionship ahead of you.Be the light: waiting around for your mentor in shining armor to come can be crippling, so instead of playing damsel, go out and become the mentor you wish you had to someone else. Whether you’re in the city, finishing school, or a working professional, there are plenty of organizations out there to join where you can be a light in a young person’s life. Tutor a freshman struggling with their biophysics class, join your local Boys and Girls Club, take in the preacher’s daughter at your church; the options are limitless.Snapchat is free: one of the greatest gifts technology and social media has given us is Snapchat. Yes, Snapchat. Within the 9 seconds allotted for each video, snap stories are the one place in the social mediasphere where people feel they can be most vulnerable and share their thoughts without judgment. Lucky for us, we are able to benefit from the free sharing of advice via this tool, so take advantage of it! Find the Snapchats of the individuals you look up to the most, and when they feel like dropping a few gems after a long start, take out your notebook and listen!
Before you go: do you desire to make have a mentor but haven’t quite been able to make the connection? Maybe you’ve had a mentor for years, how did the relationship develop? Share below, I’d love to hear!
Peace, peace, peace,