• Mentoring: Crucial to Career Development

11/25/2008

"Mentoring is crucial to career development," notes Associate Professor Regina O'Neill of the Sawyer Business School. "Research shows that mentoring is the second most important factor-after education-in determining a person's professional success."

O'Neill, who is also Academic Director of MBA Programs at the Business School, recently shared her views with Examiner.com, spotlighting the importance of working with a mentor. In the article, O'Neill stressed that "Good mentors help protégés identify opportunities, sponsor them, provide visibility for them, protect them when needed, and can help them in psychological ways by providing role modeling, counseling, and friendship."

O'Neill believes that students should take advantage of mentoring possibilities early on. She stresses that both undergraduate and graduate students need to be "forward thinking about mentoring. Professors are enormous resources. We like to get to know our students and help them. Students need to take ownership of that process," creating "personal boards of directors" among faculty members who can offer advice and guidance-and possible referrals-in making career choices.

Mentoring doesn't stop at the classroom door. Everyone needs a little help from time to time. Through her consulting practice, O'Neill has worked with a variety of companies and non-profits in their mentoring efforts, ranging from Bank of America and MTV Networks to AstraZeneca International and the Robert Toigo Foundation. She also employs online assessment tools in the classroom as well as in organizational mentoring programs to help protégés-as well as mentors-evaluate their leadership skills and developmental needs as well as their cultural preferences, emotional intelligence and mentoring potential.

The bottom line? Mentoring is key to success throughout a person's career from the earliest stages through leadership roles where having access to other managers' advice and experience can pay dividends for even the most senior of managers.

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