I’d like to encourage you to consider finding a mentee, or as I once heard it referred to as, a "reverse mentor." When we talk about mentors/mentees, generally the focus is on finding a mentor, building your network, gaining an advocate, etc. All of that is vitally important, especially in the early stages of your career, but that’s a convo for another day. For now, let’s switch the perspective to finding a mentee as a means for professional development.
Giving back or paying it forward is an extremely helpful tool in your professional development. It is your opportunity to think critically about the steps you’ve taken to get to where you are. It is a chance to evaluate what worked for you and what didn’t; what your passionate about; and where you should put your energy. Now think about taking all of that deep thinking and reflection and articulating it to your new mentee – someone at the very beginning of their career, whether that’s a brand new lawyer, a law student, an undergrad hoping to go to law school, or even a high school student with an interest in a legal related field. Being able to articulate your personal reflections in a way that is clear, (hopefully concise), and actionable will not only help your mentee, but it will likely help you (the mentor), prepare for the next career decision ahead.
Aside from the fact that having a mentee pushes you to be reflective, a mentee can also teach you a thing or two (mine sure have) and it is important to remember that the law student/baby lawyer/new attorney is also joining your professional network and may one day work with you or across from you. We can all learn something from each other, no matter where we are in our own careers. As you seek out your own mentors, give some thought to finding a mentee and consider the fact that it is as important to give back as it is to rise.
And if the above is not convincing, here’s one more consideration for those of you on the fence about finding a mentee this early in your career: people help people who are helping others. Facts. Obviously, this should not be your strongest motivator, but it is one more argument for why you should put those good vibes out into the world and find a mentee.