Brian Kurth joins me today 4pm ET/1pm PT on my radio show Making a Living. I’m excited to hear his tips on how to find your perfect mentor and have asked him to write a guest post. Enjoy and here’s to you getting the mentoring you need to have your dream job!…
Changing careers can be scary. The unknown always generates anxiety, and the “what if’s” can be terrifying. But, what if you had some help from someone who “had been there, done that” to guide you in the right direction? What if you had a chance to “test drive” a new career before you take the leap?
At any age or current career level, figuring out what ‘you want to be when you grow up’ is a lot easier with the help of a mentor. I’ve seen an architect become a baker; an engineer become a country music songwriter; a marketing executive become a corporate humorist and financial services executives become winemakers and the list of examples goes on and on. Mentorship played an invaluable role in helping these people reinvent themselves and make educated, experienced-based decisions in the choice of a new career.
So where are these mentors? They are everywhere. They are people who are passionate about what they do and eager to share their experience and insights. Do your research, learn as much as you can about your dream career and the organizations and businesses in that field. Then make some contacts. You will be surprised how many people are open to talking with you about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it.
For example, Jeff Harvey, a recent client of mine, was a stockbroker who wanted to find an encore career that would allow him to “give back” as a social entrepreneur and angel investor. Specifically, he wanted to help in finding a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a disease from which his grandson suffers. But where do you start with such a lofty goal?
Jeff did the research to find expert mentors in the field. He met with angel investors to pick their brains and also discovered Dr. Fred Sachs who was doing research in finding a cure for this disease by using tarantula venom (for real!) at The State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo. The two connected….Jeff found his mentor, who ultimately also became his business partner.
Today, Jeff meets weekly with Dr. Sachs and his team. Using his background in finance, he has helped the group form a company called Rose Pharmaceuticals, and they have started clinical trials. His dream of becoming an angel investor in a social entrepreneurial firm has been realized.
In my opinion, mentorship is at the core to career transitioning. It allows for an incremental, in-depth, hands-on, ‘test the water’ approach to first discovering what you want to do and then finding out if the water is too hot, too cold or just right. You probably wouldn’t buy something as important as a car without checking it out first….how does it drive, what are owners saying about their car? Right?
So, if you are looking to change careers, invest the time to check out what kind of features, both good and bad, a new career offers by test driving it with an expert behind the wheel to show you how to take the curves and arrive safely.
Make 2010 the year of your personal and professional test-drive. Get ready to be in the fast lane for career transition.
Brian Kurth is the author of Test-Drive Your Dream Job – A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding and Creating the Work You Love (Hachette 2008) and is the founder of the career consultancy and mentor recruitment firm, Brian Kurth + Company, and VocationVacations.