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The people with the most sought-after careers and impressive resumes will tell you that they didn’t get to where they are because of hard work alone. They also won’t solely credit it to skill, talent, or a great idea. Yes, all of those things play their part, but there’s another piece that’s just as vital to one’s professional success––mentorship.
Many of the most established CEOs explain that they wouldn’t be where they are today without the mentors who helped them along the way–– the ones that opened doors, guided them in the right direction, offered sage advice, and helped them grow into the best version of themselves. Chris Lo Verde, Founder, and CEO of Global Ecom Partners said in a Forbes article, “Starting my own business at 20 years old left me very vulnerable to making inexperienced business decisions. It is very easy to only see the dollar signs and positives in a deal. It’s the unexpected variables that my mentors would bring to light.” These unexpected variables aren’t taught in classrooms or gleaned from textbooks––the only way to access them is through experience, which is precisely why mentors are so important.
Mentors are so valuable because of their wealth of experience–– they’re able to bring perspective and help guide you in the right direction. Sometimes decisions aren’t so black and white; a mentor can help you navigate difficult situations with grace and ease because of similar lessons they’ve learned. They also keep your best interests at heart, so the advice you get is always meant to help you grow and push you towards your potential. All a mentor wants is for you to succeed, so they tend to provide the type of knowledge and support that was offered to them (or that they wish was offered to them). In addition to providing valuable insight and honest feedback, mentors can also introduce you to people in their network, which can lead to incredible opportunities you wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise.
Rhett Power, an entrepreneur who mentors young entrepreneurs with other senior leaders, explains his rationale for prioritizing mentorship, “We meet to share our experiences and mentor each other because we each understand that growth doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It requires deliberate and purposeful engagement with others who know how to achieve success (and know how to fail) because they’ve succeeded and failed themselves over and over again.” Mentorship isn’t a get-coffee-once-type thing; it’s a relationship you need to foster and build over time.
It’s best to look for mentors in your industry, or in the industry that you’re trying to break into, so the advice, feedback, and connections you make will be the most relevant to you. This can sometimes be tricky, especially if you don’t have any connections or exposure to that field. That’s why at Udacity, mentorship is part of our Nanodegree programs. As research shows, mentors can be just as impactful to your career, if not more so, than the technical knowledge you gain. Every Udacity student is paired with a knowledgeable mentor who provides guidance and support in a 1:1 manner. Our mentors facilitate student learning and work with students to create personalized learning plans so they can manage their time more efficiently. They are also there to motivate you, push you, and keep you on track with your course. It’s totally up to you to get what you want out of the mentor relationship, so take advantage and don’t be shy!
At Udacity, our hope is not just that you’ll graduate with the skills and real-world project experience to land the job of your dreams, but that you will grow in ways that you never thought possible. Mentors are the secret ingredient to this success––they give you a competitive edge, provide valuable guidance that you can’t get in a textbook or classroom setting, and support you as you face challenges and advance in your career. We’re proud of all the mentor, mentee relationships that have blossomed thus far, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for future Udacity students.