In a relatively short period of time, military servicemembers can undergo several major life transitions, including enlisting in the military, reclassification, or returning to civilian life.
Each of these changes comes with its own unique challenges and while there are a number of resources that can help, turning to a mentor can offer support that's nuanced, personal and backed up by years of experience. Keep reading to learn the top three reasons why developing a meaningful mentoring relationship can be the key to success for military personnel and veterans.
When people seek out mentors they are often times searching for job advice. For active duty military members and transitioning veterans alike, ongoing guidance can be career-changing.
A military career has many competitive components, so when a servicemember has a mentor who is invested in his or her career, the support can be even more effective and impactful than in the civilian workforce. A mentor can help a mentee identify professional opportunities, set goals and create clear a path for achieving them. Mentorships during service can also be invaluable for underrepresented military members, like women or certain minorities.
While many veterans have gone on to achieve extraordinary success in the business world, transitioning from the military to a civilian life is often a major challenge. Professionals must be able to grow and strengthen a combination of skills to change careers and secure a job that's a great match.
Fellow veterans can provide relevant, on-target guidance for mentees entering the civilian job force. Because they've been down a similar path, they can help mentees decide whether graduate study is appropriate, build attractive application packages, strengthen their professional networks, and teach the ins and outs of their mentee's industry of choice.
Service personnel at all stages of their military careers are called on to make sacrifices, whether they involve frequent relocations or separation from loved ones. These sacrifices can be challenging enough to affect a person's professional performance, relationships and emotional well-being. Even civilians who've also had to make sacrifices – such as spouses and children – can have trouble fully understanding the strain on a servicemember.
A mentor who is a veteran or long-time servicemember can offer encouragement and put these issues into perspective for a mentee who is struggling. In these situations, an older mentor can speak from first-hand experience and show a mentee how much today's sacrifices can pay off later down the line.
A Valuable Connection
When veterans return home they may have trouble relating to friends and family members who can't fully grasp what they're experiencing. Many veterans report feelings of isolation, even when they're surrounded by a large, supportive network of civilian loved ones.
Mentor-mentee relationships not only provide new veterans with the benefit of receiving practical career advice, but it gives them a solid, ongoing connection with someone who understands what it's like to serve and readjust to civilian life.
Mentors can suggest coping strategies and resources or even spot when a new veteran may need to seek professional help. This relationship can be just as valuable to the mentor, who may also benefit from discussing frustrations, solutions and insights with a fellow veteran.
Servicemembers and veterans can take advantage of the numerous programs designed to connect them with mentors, or they can informally approach potential mentors who they admire. While career guidance, support and connection are the major advantages of mentorship for active duty service members and veterans, a strong mentor-mentee relationship can yield dozens of benefits over the course of a career.