Do you Need a Mentor? Four Questions to Ask Yourself

The EPIP Los Angeles mentorship program recently kicked off its pilot year. Since being selected to participate in the cohort, we’ve each identified, reached out to, and had initial conversations with our mentors. EPIP LA Cohort 2014   One of the first steps in mentorship is realizing how you can benefit from the process. Prior to our involvement, each of us asked ourselves the question of whether or not we needed a mentor. Mentorship is a unique opportunity to deepen relationships, learn more about the sector, and define career goals. If you’re trying to determine whether or not mentorship is right for you, here are four questions to ask yourself before beginning. 1. Have I articulated what my career goals are? If you’re still trying to determine what you want most out of your career, a mentor can help guide you. It’s often beneficial for someone to talk you through developing goals that are aligned with your skills and interests. 2. Am I currently in a position to fulfill my career goals? Once you’ve determined your short- and long-term goals, you need to ask yourself if your current role is helping you achieve them. Where are your shortcomings? Do you need more training in certain areas, or could you benefit from a masters or certificate program? A mentor can help identify where you might want to focus your energy moving forward. 3. Have I opened myself up to new experiences? Working with a mentor can help expose you to new experiences, like following along on a site visit or learning how the grant cycle works at their foundation. This knowledge can be brought back to your own organization and make you a more well-rounded employee. Other opportunities include seeking out volunteer opportunities at local nonprofits and on boards, committees, or commissions. Taking on a leadership role in the community will only enhance your professional development and expand your network. 4. Do I want to explore other roles within the sector? If the answer is yes, look for a mentor with a range of experiences. If you’re processing grants but want to gain experience on the program side, their knowledge base will help you learn about other ways to be involved before making the leap yourself. We can all benefit from guidance at various points throughout our career. Especially when you’re new to the field or in the early phases of your work in philanthropy, a mentor can help you navigate the sector, provide new perspectives, and answer questions about various roles in the field. As EPIP’s LA’s first mentorship cohort, we look forward to sharing more about our experiences, and offering tips that we’ve learned along the way. If you have any questions for us, please share them in the comments! For more information regarding EPIP LA's Mentorship Program and its 2013-2014 cohort, please click here. For further inquires, please email