Survey: Mentors and Networks - Critical Support for Your New Career

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Changing careers is a big step into unknown territory, and Andryce Zurick knows that having a professional network and a mentor on your team can be crucial to your success. During her more than 30 years of corporate experience —with major telecom companies like Verizon and Sprint—Zurick has taken the role of mentor and coach to many women in the business world. Her current work as an executive coach and a senior faculty member in the School of Business and Management at Kaplan University provides an opportunity for her to put into practice the wisdom she gained in the corporate sphere. In this post, Zurick shares some tips for building a career network and some insight about the value of having a mentor in your new field.

If you're reinventing yourself at mid-life, how important is having a career support system?

Relationship-building is critical to successfully launching a new career, especially for baby boomers. Adults entering a new field later in life are faced with special concerns like employer liability, keeping skills current and how to fit in with younger coworkers. It’s extremely important to have people around you that you can rely upon to help you with these challenges.

What should such a career network look like: who should you include?

You can build your career network by joining organizations where you can be recognized as a thought leader—the National Association of Professional Women for example—find a niche, write articles and build a celebrity status. Join organizations and meet people face-to-face whenever possible, so that people will get to know who you are.  Being in sales, I have always made an effort to keep in contact with people that are important to me—especially through face-to-face meetings. Also, don’t overlook your friends and family as great resources.

You're conducting a survey of women on the subject of mentorships. What do you hope to discover?

We are trying to determine if women have different mentoring needs and styles than men do. We thought it would be great if we could come up with a recommendation of what women really want in a mentor. Initially, we have found that there were different measures for women for mentorship, especially in careers that are traditionally male-dominated—engineering, for example.

If you're switching careers or even starting your own business, how could having a mentor help?

Mentors help you navigate the culture; they help you understand what is required of you. A mentor can help you conduct a SWOT analysis of your talents—asking, “What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are the obstacles or threats to your success? How can you improve?” Mentor relationships depend on the needs of the mentee and mentor, and finding that tailored, specific support to help you through the ropes of a new culture or position is priceless.

Any parting advice for mid-life career changers?

Just like our modern lives, careers are changing at an exponential rate. Taking time for reflection is key. Ask yourself—What have I learned about myself? What is important to me in a career? How will this help me in moving forward and making choices for my future?  You’re the expert and you get to decide what the next step is, so follow your talents and your passion and go for it!

What do you want in a Mentor? Take the survey below:

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Kaplan University provides a practical, student-centered education that prepares individuals for careers in some of the fastest-growing industries. The University, which has its main campus in Davenport, Iowa, and its headquarters in Chicago, is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (www.ncahlc.org). It serves more than 53,000 online and campus-based students. The University has 11 campuses in Iowa, Nebraska, Maryland and Maine, and Kaplan University Learning Centers in Maryland, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri and Florida.

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