The business world places a strong emphasis on relationships, evidenced by the ubiquity of networking events, the prevalence of employee bonding efforts, the value placed on office collaboration and the creation of leadership teams. Clearly, building and maintaining a strong rapport with other individuals in your field is one key to career success. This is what makes mentoring relationships so important in nearly every field, including accounting.
Finding a mentor at work or while you’re in graduate school can provide an unparalleled advantage in both your career and personal advancement. If you’re a current master’s in accounting student or recent graduate, consider the following facts if you don’t already have a mentor:
See the Future
Approaching and working with a mentor is a great way for you to gain invaluable insight into your future in the accounting specialty of your choice. While you may not take the exact path as your mentor, you’ll still have a chance to learn what it’s like to work in a particular role or on a particular task. You’ll learn important aspects of your career path that can’t be taught in a classroom environment. For instance, learning how to handle conflict, understanding client interaction, making connections within your firm, and building leadership and inter-personal skills are all key results of mentorship.
Find a Mentor
A compatible mentor may take time to find, but a long-lasting and advantageous relationship makes the search worth it. Networking, building relationships with professors who are closely tied to the business community, connecting with alumni and classmates and leveraging any other connections you might have are all good ways to find mentors in your field.
While you look for the right mentor, it can be helpful to practice your own “elevator pitch.” This would be a quick presentation about yourself, why you are looking for a mentor, and why you chose accounting as your career path. After all, mentors aren’t just looking for someone who is smart and talented to share their experiences with. Though those two factors are certainly important, you’ll also need to demonstrate discipline, dedication, confidence, knowledge, willingness to learn and a passion for the industry.
Build a Relationship
Whether you are a student looking for a mentor in the business world or a young accountant looking for a mentor within your firm, the fundamentals of building a relationship with a potential mentor are the same.
Gauging an individual’s interest in sharing his or her knowledge is the first step. If he or she is interested, start slow. Consider creating an email exchange about relevant topics in the industry; you might share articles that your potential mentor would find interesting or suggest meeting again at a local event. If he or she engages with you, the relationship can evolve naturally from that point. Remember that this is not a one-way relationship. You are both gaining a new perspective and a new connection in a competitive business landscape.
Evidence shows that younger generations feel more engaged when they have mentors. This is why many of today’s businesses are recognizing the value of mentorship within their ranks; Forbes cites a recent survey that found mentorship key to engaging millennial employees. 85% of executives in that survey cited engagement as an important priority for their businesses. The business you work for or hope to work for also benefits from the process – instead of a training program, it can utilize mentorship as a method for adjusting new hires or potential new hires to their roles. Creating mentoring relationships between employees and graduating students also offers firms the ability to both get to know and recruit new talent first.
Additionally, mentors often find it satisfying to share their experiences with mentees. Helping others achieve success gives many an unparalleled morale and motivation boost.
Make Sure It’s a Good Quality Match
According to the AICPA, successful mentorship requires a “good quality match” between the mentor and mentee. This doesn’t always mean that the two individuals have similar personalities or interests. Often, for a mentoring relationship to work, strengths and weaknesses are not necessarily aligned. A mentor with strong leadership and people skills would be best matched with a more introverted mentee. This mentor can help his or her mentee develop the leadership skills necessary for being successful and upwardly mobile in the accounting world. A mentor who is different from you, therefore, may just have the most to teach you.
If you are interested in advancing your accounting career, mentorship can be key to your success. A master’s degree in accounting is another important tool for advancement. To learn more, visit Maryville University’s online Master of Science in Accounting degree program.