Five Ways You Can Find A Mentor
“A mentor is not someone who walks ahead of us to show us how they did it. A mentor walks alongside us to show us what we can do.” -Simon Sinek
No doubt, having a mentor is a “nice to have” at any stage of your career. But how can you go about finding one? Here are five ways you can start your search.
· Your school: If completed some post-high school education, (university, community college, bootcamps, certificate program) reach out to both your Alumni Affairs and Career Services offices. Successful alumni often want to mentor recent grads from their alma mater.
· Your employer: Corporations such as Boeing and Caterpillar have long had mentoring programs in place. But even newer companies like Zynga understand their value. (You’d know if your company has a mentoring program. But if not, why not suggest they create one?)
· Professional associations: If your employer doesn’t offer a mentoring program, look to your professional organizations. Some such as the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) have structured mentoring programs. If not, join anyway. You may meet someone who is a potential mentor through the virtual networking events nearly all professional associations are hosting now. Increase the chances of meeting a mentor by getting involved with the group as a committee member or virtual event volunteer.
· LinkedIn Groups: Most likely, at least one LinkedIn group exists for your career field. Make the effort to get more active in the group ask thoughtful questions about the topic, offer your own insight into industry trends and topics. Note members that contribute insightful content and respond to your posts regularly. That online interaction could be cultivated over the time to the point where you might directly ask for mentoring.
· Dedicated Mentoring Programs: Professional organizations founded to serve those identifying with a certain demographic and industry often have dedicated, structured mentoring programs. A few examples are Black in AI , (founded to increase the presence of Black people in artificial intelligence sector), The Association of LGBTQ Journalists (NLGJA) and Women in Listed Derivatives (WILD) . There are many, many more professional organizations dedicated to a specific demographic.
Yet, have an open mind. If someone who doesn’t look like you and is successful doing something you want to do offers to mentor you, don’t be too quick to turn them down. Think about what former Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice who teaches now at Stanford University has to say about mentors: “Had I been waiting for a Black female Soviet specialist mentor, I would still be waiting. Most of my mentors have been old white men because they were the ones who dominated my field.” She fashioned a stellar career and was willing to consider guidance from those that did not look like her.
These are just five possible ways for you to meet potential mentors and each one is a good starting off point. If you want a mentor, you will find one. Remember, successful people want to help others and often hold a personal commitment to doing so. ( In fact, that’s one of the reasons the Executalks platform exists! )
How will having a mentor will help you achieve your career goals? Which one of these suggestions do you think you will try? Would you consider mentoring someone? What other ways might you meet a potential mentor?
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Upsplash