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You need a mentor

Article

For the first few months after I gave birth to my son, I was pretty sure I wanted to quit my job. I loved my work, but those 12 weeks I'd spent at home getting to know this interesting little person weren't enough. Every morning, when I sent him off to day care, the guilt crept in. By mid-morning, it was an ache. And by 3:30 p.m., I could only think about rushing home for a few minutes with my son before bedtime.

For the first few months after I gave birth to my son, I was pretty sure I wanted to quit my job. I loved my work, but those 12 weeks I'd spent at home getting to know this interesting little person weren't enough. Every morning, when I sent him off to day care, the guilt crept in. By mid-morning, it was an ache. And by 3:30 p.m., I could only think about rushing home for a few minutes with my son before bedtime.

Portia Stewart

I spent a lot of time fretting about it before I finally decided to speak with my boss. I told her my fears and frustrations and explained I didn't know what to do. I was slowly moving closer and closer to a decision to leave, and I wasn't sure that was what I really wanted.

She understood. She remembered her own challenges returning to work when her daughter was born. This was just the beginning of many conversations we would have over the next few years. These discussions were brainstorming meetings to find solutions—choosing a different flex schedule, accommodating my breastfeeding, and tackling other tough life balance topics. But they were also a dialogue that gave me an outlet for my feelings, reassurance that I wasn't alone, and support from someone who'd been down this road already.

The truth is, everyone needs a mentor—whether it's your boss, your team leader, or someone you admire outside of your practice. This person will help you explore all the paths open to you in your career. And the best mentor will support you in any direction you choose to grow, even if it takes you away from the practice you work at.

So how do you get one? That's the easy part. You just ask. Chances are, the person you ask will be flattered. Look for someone who's in a position you aspire to achieve. Then discuss how that person got there and set your goals to make your dream happen.

Portia Stewart, Editor

firstline@advanstar.com

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