By Rachel Polson, partner at Baker Tilly and MHTA board member

Over the years of watching my boys play baseball, I have seen them form a special bond with their coaches. These coaches volunteer their time and talents by teaching my sons about the sport and more importantly about how to be respectful, strong and resilient young men. Witnessing these relationships inspired me to reflect on the coaches and mentors who have influenced me and continue to today.

Having a mentor can be helpful as you are starting your career, or changing career paths, starting a new business, developing a new product or simply looking to move up within your profession.

Like the baseball coach who takes the time to explain a better way to field the ball, mentors can support you in your career and can offer advice for how to make your next move or deal with a difficult situation. I have found the best coaches and mentors are the ones who are genuine as they listen and assist with career decisions and don’t have a self-serving agenda. These people may be the ones encouraging you, pushing you outside of your comfort zone and believing in you when you may not believe in your own capabilities.

So, what stage of your career would a mentor or coach be most influential? I suggest at any stage. Plus, the type of mentor or coach and their experience that will best benefit you may transform also.  If you are starting out in your career perhaps a mentor with five years of experience more than you would be a great resource for you and someone you can relate to. However, sometimes it can be the complete opposite of a person that is a great fit – these are great connections too because they may have different experiences and may be able to see things from a diverse perspective. Lastly, don’t rule out the person who holds the position you consider your dream job. Most people are willing to meet with you and share advice from their lessons learned – don’t be afraid to ask.

These influential people are great resources to help guide your future, skills and talents. As the years in our careers progress, having similar types of coaches, mentors and support systems as we had in our youth is more relevant and important as a person develops in their career.

Whether you are starting your career, or looking for someone to bounce ideas off of, get up to the plate and don’t be afraid to swing!  You never know when the swing will connect with the ball for a home run!

Rachel Polson is a partner at accounting and advisory firm Baker Tilly. She is a member of the MHTA Foundation Board of Directors and has served as a judge for MHTA’s Tekne Awards for several years.