You're thinking about becoming a physician's assistant. You know you want to help people but you're really not sure what a PA actually does. You muster the courage to contact a PA and set up an appointment for a half hour of her time. After that phone call you were actually quite surprised that she agreed to meet with you.
Your half-hour call with Liz went by in five-minutes. Liz agreed to answer future questions. She also gave you the name of another PA working in a different field of medicine. Time spent with Liz was enlightening. You can't wait to continue exploring.
At this point, Liz the PA is a guide.
At a recent party one of your parent's friends strikes up a conversation. Bob happens to be a PA. For some reason Bob sees a younger Bob in you. As you are an Emma, you temporarily dismiss any weirdness. You run into Bob a few months later and he invites you to spend an hour with him at the office. Bob senses your curiosity and enthusiasm. He offers to meet with you on a regular basis to help guide you through school. In return you agree to be prompt and give him your undivided attention.
Bob is a mentor.
Guides - It's up to YOU to get the guide to move from a noun to a verb. You are responsible to find them. You are responsible to set up the appointment. You are responsible to interview in order to secure information. And YOU are responsible to maintain the connection. For the sake of career exploration, there are two reasons to enlist guides.
- To provide career and job related information in regards to their particular field of interest.
- To provide career and job related information that will help you advance in that field.
Following your initial conversation, you ask if it would be okay to contact them in the future with questions and ask if they would be willing to refer other people who might be interested in talking with you. You thank them for their time and get a handwritten thank-you note in the mail to them by 5:00 p.m. of that day.
We'll be talking in the future about how to optimize conversations with guides and how to stay in contact with them.
Mentors - I think today's society places way too much pressure on young adults to have a mentor. If you don't have one today, no worries.
A mentor offers significantly more than a guide. Both in terms of time spent and advice given. The relationship is more structured and systematic even if it is amongst friends.
At Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness however, we're going to concentrate on guides. Ironically, if you do a good job of cultivating guide relationships and move forward with passionate curiosity anchored by respect, you might have to fight off folks from wanting to be your mentor.