How a mentor can help you
"The first step to finding a good mentor is, of course, coming to terms with the fact that you actually can benefit from having one," says billionaire Richard Branson. Undertaking the right tax course is necessary to have a career in the tax industry, but a mentor can help that career become great.
A wise and experienced mentor can:
- Prevent you from making rookie mistakes.
- Let you tap into their network of contacts.
- Reassure you and motivate you when you experience setbacks.
- Provide advice on how to improve both your technical and people skills.
- Act as a sounding board when you need to make big decisions, such as whether to invest in more tax training.
- Diplomatically point out your weaknesses and show how to improve them.
- Identify your strengths and suggest how you can better leverage them.
- Provide the kind of perspective that only comes from age and experience.
Finding a mentor
The good news is that finding a mentor has never been easier. Many companies – including all the 'Big Four' firms – have mentoring programs, and you can also find a mentoring match through the Small Business Mentoring Service or the Australian Businesswomen's Network.
If you want to identify and approach someone without going through a middleman, you can always attend the networking events featured on The Tax Institute's calendar and see if you run into anyone inspiring.
It can even be as simple as picking up the phone, reaching out via LinkedIn or sending an email to someone you admire to ask them to mentor you – they're likely to be flattered you even asked.
How to be good a mentee
Unless they are retired, your mentor is probably going to be someone in a senior position with lots of demands on their time. Respect the time they are selflessly giving to you by turning up to appointments and arriving well prepared with a list of issues you want to discuss. Mentor–mentee relationships can take many different forms, but keep in mind that it is meant to be a business-focused relationship and your mentor may not wish to hear about, or provide advice on, your personal life.
Finally, always show your mentor gratitude and respect, especially when bringing the relationship to a close.
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