How To Find A Mentor
Everyone says you gotta have a mentor, or one, or two, but just how does a person go about getting one? Kathryn Marion, author of “Grads: Take Charge of Your First Year After College!” has some fabulous suggestions. Working Girl couldn’t have said it better herself. (Love that “Board of Advisors” idea–and it’s in “the book” too, page 263. How cool is that.)
MENTORS CAN WORK MAGIC FOR YOUR CAREER
Having a mentor sounds like a wonderful thing, but how does a person get a mentor to help them through their career? It’s not as difficult as it sounds and you don’t have to limit yourself to just one mentor, either. Many of the career experts I interviewed during research for my book recommend that a new college graduate, or any job seeker for that matter, develop a “personal Board of Advisors.”
One mentor may work with you for only a short while, providing feedback on your resume. Another may help you work through an exercise of setting realistic career goals. And a third may help you prepare for interviews. Whatever you need help with, there are people ‘out there’ willing to help you—you need to find them and ask for their help. There’s no guarantee that everyone you ask will be available or willing to help you right now, but you’ll never know if you never ask!
You can start with your alma mater: alumni, professors, and counselors may have just the information you need. Look to local companies in the field you want to identify people with the experiences and insights that would be valuable to you. Mentors don’t have to be local, but developing a face-to-face relationship is a big help in nurturing a mentor-mentee relationship. You may also find mentors through networking groups or community service organizations such as Kiwanis or the Junior League.
To broaden your search beyond the local area, identify people through online research. Look through your friends’ contacts on LinkedIn and other networks. When you spot someone you’d like to learn more about, ask for an introduction. To connect with someone who is not within your network, remember the idea of ‘six degrees of separation’ and ask your network if they know anyone who knows the person you want to talk to (or another person in the same company).
If you’re having trouble identifying people you would like to learn from, there are a number of organizations and online services that can help you connect with a willing mentor in any number of industries. Some can help you find a mentor in a highly specialized field, such as the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses. Many universities and chambers of commerce offices have mentor match-up programs as well. For business mentors, www.GottaMentor.com has an excellent array of mentors willing to help.
Having a mentor, or an entire Board of Advisors, can be one of the biggest boosts to your career you’ll ever find. Respect your mentor’s time, act on their advice, and give back to them whenever you can, and you’ll be on the road to a valuable relationship that may end up lasting a lifetime.
Kathryn Marion is the author of Grads: TAKE CHARGE of Your First Year After College! She coaches new grads and job seekers through important career transitions and tirelessly shares career advice on Twitter daily (@RealSolutions22).