I have been working in leadership development consulting for close to nineteen years. I spent years in graduate school earning degrees in organizational psychology so I could be a skilled professional. However, one of the lessons I learned not long after graduation was the same lesson countless accountants, lawyers, engineers, scientists, physicians, and others have learned: school doesn’t teach you what you need to know to be a professional.
My graduate education gave me a lot of skills and knowledge that I use regularly in my consulting. But, very little time was devoted to being a psychologist working in my field. My program was a little unusual in that I took a class called Consultation Skills, which was a great introduction to being a consultant. But, there were so many lessons I needed to learn to build a career. That is where my mentors came in.
Mentors play an important role in helping professionals go from being credentialed to credible, from being educated to being effective. Finding a mentor early on helps a professional learn many lessons, including how to work with other professionals, how to engage clients or patients, and how to build a successful career. I was recently interviewed for an article in the Journal of Accountancy newsletter. While the piece is written for accountants, the advice I and other experts give apply to any young professional seeking a mentor.