Five reasons your fears of a mentorship program aren't enough to not do it
I have been working and writing for The Mentor Method for just shy of a year. I am graduating college next year and was recently offered a job on an early acceptance deadline. With their congratulation emails came opportunities to sign up for mentoring and networking-type opportunities. Despite my resume and weekly writings, this still scared me! So, I made a list of all my fears and reasons I might sit out and why they truly weren't enough to stop me from participating. Mentoring is such an amazing experience and privilege but our fear of the unknown can stop us from gaining the benefits it has to offer!
Fear: It's awkward. What am I supposed to do? Go sit down with a person I don't know and awkwardly talk myself up for an hour or two? What if they're weird or disconnected or (maybe worse) too cool? How am I supposed to know what to talk about?
Why it's not enough: It's not awkward. A mentor is like any other person that you meet. Especially in the first meeting, you are learning about them and they are learning about you. Let the conversation flow naturally. Ask them questions about themselves and be open in responding. Don't put too much pressure on trying to come across as perfect or the funniest or the smartest, just relax and be yourself. You know that they were once in your shoes too. You'll navigate the conversation together and find common ground.
Worst case scenario: You have a slightly awkward coffee with someone and you move on. That is not worth losing all of the amazing benefits investing in your mentorship program can give you.
Tip: Write out some questions and conversation ideas before your meeting if you get nervous to meet new people.
Fear: What if we don't get along? I know that a mentor isn't just going to be mean for literally no reason upon first meeting me, but what if they have an edge and we just can't connect? I don't want to start a job already having people not like me.
Why it's not enough: This means that they are probably excited or at least tolerant of getting to know you and want to make the most of the experience as possible. They are going to go into the situation wanting to help guide you through a new part of your career and life.
Worst case scenario: They don't like you. Sometimes in life we meet people that we do not connect with and that is okay. Not everyone you meet is going to love you and you're not going to love everyone you meet. Instead of worrying about this, go in with a positive attitude, grateful for the person who is giving you their time and really embrace the opportunity.
Tip: Take a minute in the mirror or a journal and remind yourself how awesome you are, the confidence will help with any getting-to-know-you-fears.
Fear: I'm not even sure I am going to take (or stay with) the job so what is the point of trying to be convinced by someone? I have time to decide and I'm scared that they'll be offended if we've met, chat, connected and I end up deciding to do something else after graduation.
Why it's not enough: There are two choices-- you take the job or you don't. You're either going to end up at this company and already know a person who is there to help guide you through the transition or you're not going to end up there and you know you gave it a fair shot. Your future mentor can help walk you through first-day-of-school fears and jitters you may have as you're waiting to begin.
Worst case scenario: After talking to them, and doing other research, you decide the job isn't right. That's helpful too! It's nice to have interacted with someone before turning down an opportunity.
Tip: Come up with questions and concerns you have about the job or position so that you can make the most of the time you have with them.
Fear: I'm really busy and just don't have time to talk to someone, I just can't do it. I have papers and tests and class and work and everything else, I haven't even started this job yet, is this worth trying to squeeze it in?
Why it's not enough: Honesty and priorities. This one is all about making time and being honest. If it's finals weeks and you really can't squeeze something in or your current job is overwhelming you, be honest! They're another human being and they will understand not being able to schedule anything for a couple of weeks. But, when doing this, make sure it is a priority. Find time to take the hour to meet a new person and have a nice conversation and you'll be glad you did!
Worst case scenario: Your schedules don't line up and you have a phone call or exchange emails. You'll find a way to make it work!
Tip: Look for a time when you would normally grab coffee with a friend or watch TV and make that time productive by scheduling the meeting.
Fear: Those personality questionnaires?! What do you write?! They're asking me what my interests are… do I have interests? Did I get this far without interests??
Why it's not enough: Of course you have interests. It's weird and sometimes uncomfortable to have to write about yourself and explain who you are in a few blurbs, but it really helps. Being as honest as you can be is important to making sure you find the best possible mentor for yourself. The algorithms rely on you telling them who you are.
Worst case scenario: You let your fear of writing down what you like stop you from meeting the best possible new mentor.
Tip: If you're stuck and really don't know what to write, ask your friends! They know who you are and what you like! It can be hard to view yourself, especially when you're just starting out or going through a life change, so ask and be open.
Having a mentor is really worth any stress or anxiety that may be stopping you from signing up. I am saying this to myself as much as I am to you! So get out there and fill out the form. Check out other piece we've written on how to navigate the first meeting.