As we are increasingly seeing DEI at the top of the corporate priority list, it has also become more evident that there is a need to address the lack of representation in the corporate industry as well as the neglectful pattern of lack of professional development for Black, Latinx, and Native American individuals. Anecdotally, we’ve known that many of the POC community do not have a mentor or someone who they are able to look up to and learn from in their prospective careers. After surveying 700 of our community members, 68 percent of those individuals admitted to not having a professional mentor while only 32 percent said that they did. This might sound shocking, but it’s actually a consistent pattern across various fields for POCs. In a recent survey by Olivet Nazarene University—they concluded that among 3,000 people surveyed—although 76 percent of people think mentors are important, only 37 percent of people currently have one. This is a huge deficit considering that mentors have been proven to contribute to the success of many professionals, providing a wealth of opportunities and knowledge to people in the early stages of their careers.
What does this tell us? It tells us that there is a high demand for mentorship opportunities in the professional POC community. Among the Jopwell community who were surveyed and admitted to not having a mentor, 62 percent of those who do not have one said that it was because of lack of resources, while 38 percent said it was because it hasn’t been a priority for them. Regardless, it’s clear that mentorship has not been a necessity in POC communities.
Mentors are people who truly invest in you. They care about your professional growth and offer strategic, intelligent advice to properly support and guide you. Although it’s always beneficial to, at the very least, have a professional mentor who is more seasoned than you are, it’s just as important for mentors to be someone who you respect and who provide great examples of professionalism and work ethic.
We want to help you do your due diligence in order to build a useful professional network, starting with personal steps that you can take in order to get a mentor, regardless of what stage of your career you are in.
Use social media as a networking tool. The friendly admirer approach is probably the lowest lift that you can partake in to meet your potential mentor. Yes, you should be sliding in peoples DMs. Be honest about your intentions. Tell them about yourself, be honest about where you are in your career and share your motives with them and the direction you want to go in. You’ll be surprised how receptive people are to helping.
Go to networking events and really take advantage of those chat rooms. Post-covid, we’ve had an interesting transition into virtual events, which has made it more challenging to get that tangible human interaction, but on the other hand, it has made it more accessible and less burdensome to attend. Take advantage of this new digital networking space that we are in. We can help you with some of Jopwell’s upcoming events. Browse here.
Join a networking community. They exist, you just have to search for them. Peer to peer mentorship is also an option. At Jopwell, we provide chat rooms via slack to community members and there are many other networking communities out there that are field specific, demo specific, and age specific. Do your research and find one that’s most suitable for you.