What makes a good mentor?

As a young PR professional in an unfamiliar city, I often find myself wishing that I had someone I could turn to for professional guidance.

I’ve got colleagues and great bosses, but I think it’s important to have someone outside of the office that you can turn to.  So, the question that comes to mind is: what makes a good mentor, and where/how do I find one?

I think a good mentor should be more than just someone who offers his or her advice and opinions.

Mentors listen: Often times, a young pros voice will get lost among other staffers in the office.  We may have lots of questions, but we’ve also got ideas.  Sometimes, they’re even good ones.  A mentor can provide an outlet for young pros to share their thoughts and ideas, to ask questions that we might feel embarrassed to ask our boss, or just to listen and lend some support if you’ve had a tough week at work.

Mentors provide insight and educate: They use personal experience to help their mentees avoid big mistakes and learn from good decisions – but they do this from a distance.  They share stories and struggles fr0m both their personal and professional lives.  They don’t try to take control.

Mentors guide, they don’t push: They can provide great insights about keeping on task, setting and reaching your goals and defining priorities. They’ll offer support to help mentees find their own direction in life.

Mentors provide constructive criticism:  Mentors can serve as a great guide, pointing out areas in your work that need improvement.  The critical part: they should focus on the mentee’s behavior, never his or her character.  They give specific advice on what was done well or what could be done better.

Mentors are supportive: No matter how painful or difficult the situation. Young pros need to know they have someone in their corner who wants to help them learn and improve.

What do you think makes a good mentor?

After meeting Kristena on #JobHuntChat, and speaking frequently, I realized that she is SO full of wisdom.  You’ll be seeing a few more, exciting and wonderful posts from her in the upcoming months.

Kristena Morse is a public relations professional who has spent the past two years working on behalf of a variety of clients at a small, independently owned public relations firm in Louisville, Ky. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Public Relations from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI in May 2008. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.