Congratulations!  You have a dream job mentor or about to get one.  If you don’t have one, get one!   (One wee bit of shameless self promotion:  Check out how to get a mentor in my book, Test-Drive Your Dream Job: A Step By Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love – Hachette, 2008).

Now’s the time to pick your mentor’s brain — promise them it won’t hurt.  There are many more questions to ask them, but I suggest you focus on 8 key issues that I feel are THE most important to get things going:

1.  Skills – What skills do I need in order to succeed in this field?

2.  Time – How many hours do you work each day?  Has that changed over time?  Most importantly, how do you balance your work and home life?

3.  Finances (most especially for those looking to start their own business) – What does it cost to get the required education?  What does it cost to get set up in this dream job?  Do you have advice about getting a loan?  What are the biggest expenses?  What can I expect to earn at first?  What were your biggest money mistakes?  Would you be willing to let me see your business plan and/or annual budget?

4.  Technical Issues – What ongoing training do you recommend?  Are there any mistakes you made that I can learn from?

5.  Marketing – How do you attract customers?  How do you determine your pricing?  Biggest marketing mistakes?  Biggest marketing success?

6. Career Path – How did you get into the field?  After mentoring me a bit, what can you imagine for me?

7.  General “Stuff” – What was your biggest surprise?  Hardest time?  What would you do differently if you were going into this job again?  What else should I ask you (sometimes you don’t even know the toughest questions to ask — prompt your mentor to ask them for you!)

8.  Next Steps – What are the next steps beyond my mentorship so I can move forward and make this my dream job?  Do you have contacts to help me?  Organizations in this field I should join (or stay away from?)

Mentorship is required at all stages in life.  It holds no class, economic, racial, age, gender, sexual orientation or religious boundaries.  None.  Everyone should be mentored or mentoring at some point in their lives.  So go for it.  Explore.  Discover.  And seek out that dream job under the tutelage of an expert mentor!