By: Emily Claridge
April 25, 2023
Mentorship is crucial for career growth, especially for employees new to the workforce or an industry. I’ve been fortunate to have had numerous mentors throughout my career in various settings. Recently, I attended an event where a leader shared, “We are all leaders, followers, mentors, and mentees.” You can learn from anyone, regardless of age, experience, title or role. Here are some differences to consider when seeking a mentor.
Formal vs. Informal
Formal mentorship programs are offered through various commercial real estate organizations, including CREW, NAIOP, CoreNet and other local groups. Often there is an application process, and a committee will pair mentors and mentees based on experience or career aspirations. For example, the CREW mentorship program includes modules to help guide the discussions between the pairing. This format empowers participants to take a deeper look at their career plans by filling out assessments or writing down goal lists.
Informal mentorship is more common, with mentees finding mentors through their company, organizations they are involved in, or even through their personal life. Participating in networking events or working on a project with a new team are great ways to find a mentor. While there isn’t always a structured “will you be my mentor” conversation, it is always best to lead with authenticity when establishing these relationships. These connections are key to building a professional network and expanding industry knowledge.
Internal vs. External
It is important for mentees to have mentors within their organization for questions and to advocate for them when they are not in the room. Mentorship is also about discovering and sharing value with others. Even while working at the same company in the same position, each employee will have different viewpoints and knowledge they can share with others.
It is equally important to have mentors outside of the company. They can be a confidant for situational questions who will be unbiased towards the mentee’s co-workers and company. These mentors are also helpful for career growth and bring a whole new set of different experiences. Finding time to meet with external mentors is critical, as daily interaction is limited. Scheduling time for coffee, lunch or a happy hour a few times a year and sending quick updates are great ways to stay connected on successes and challenges.
Virtual vs. In-Person
Virtual mentorship allows mentors and mentees to connect easier with video or phone meetings. It is also a way for people to connect with others in various geographical locations. Learning from someone in a different part of the world is beneficial, so consider opportunities for virtual mentorship. Social media and email conversations can also help mentors and mentees stay in touch.
In-person mentorship is great for that personal connection and can be an opportune way to explore an area. New to a city? Find a mentor to learn more about the local business community and check out a new coffee shop or restaurant. In-person can also be easier to involve others, for example, by bringing a mentee to an event or inviting another connection to a mentorship meeting. Dog walks, wine tastings and boat cruises are all great activities for mentees and mentors to do together. After all, the better we know someone, the more likely we are to be open and honest in our communications.
How to Find a Mentor
Ask your manager to connect you. Management may have ideas for mentors within the company and will be connected to other leaders within the industry.
Sign up for a formal program – check out CREW, NAIOP, BOMA, CoreNet, other real estate organizations, and city-specific networking groups.
Attend an event and make a connection. Again, these informal mentors can appear more often than you think. You might be talking with a co-worker at a holiday party and realize they have a unique skill you are interested in. Most people are happy to talk about their experiences and share time with those passionate about learning.
Emily Claridge is a Transaction Manager for the Tenant Advisory + Workplace Solutions group and a leader within Transwestern Young Professionals. Based in Minneapolis, she and her team focus on local and national tenant reresentation and portfolio management.
- Bringing Fresh Perspectives to Commercial Real Estate Careers
- 3 Ways Leadership Roles in Industry Organizations are Beneficial
- Identifying a Work Environment to Enhance Company Culture
- Commercial Property Management Administration Offers a Ladder to Career Advancement
- More Than Numbers: A Career in CRE Accounting
Commercial Real Estate