Do you have a mentor to talk to about your career? Or are you looking for one?
Atmy first internship at Boeing, my team paired me with my mentor. She helped me find the bathrooms, the cafeteria, and also led me through my team’s processes.
I got to shadow her all summer long and by the time I left back for school, I understood where my team fit in the larger picture of the Boeing Company.
As a 20 year old intern heading into my junior year, I really looked up to her. She had just completed her MBA and had been with the company the last 5 years. She also taught pilates and ran marathons. She showed me a glimpse of how my future after I graduated from college.
So why should you have a mentor?
Whether you’re an intern or 10 years into your career, having a mentor can be incredibly helpful to your career. Mentors are an incredible resource and one of the most valuable things you get from a mentor/mentee relationship is their perspective and advice.
Earlier this year, I turned to one of my current mentors and let her know that I was thinking about leaving my finance rotation program to stay in my current project management role. She encouraged me to follow my instincts. This week I permanently transferred into my project management role!
Mentors can also help you connect with people with other functions or parts of the company. If you’re interested in moving into a management role or learning more about a creative role, mentors can help you find someone to talk to.
Mentors can also help you navigate the workplace culture, politics, or help you learn how to work with different management/work styles.
And lastly, mentors can help you explore your career, lend advice about school, and your passions. All the tips in this post can be used to find a mentor in any context.
Before you find a mentor:
First take a step back and reflect on your career goals.
- What do you want to be doing in your next role?
- What’s your one year, 3 year, 5 year, or even 10 year plan?
- What roles are you interested in your company?
- Do you see yourself becoming an expert in your field? Or a path to management?
Now that you have a better idea of where you’re at in your career, here are a few ways to look for a mentor:
4 Ways to Find a Mentor
1. Explore your current network
Reach out to your manager and your current team and let them know you’re interested in finding a mentor. Or reach out to former professors or previous work teams you’ve been on. Or even let your friends know that you’re looking for a mentor. Chances are, someone in your network may know someone whose either looking for a mentee or has previously been a mentor before.
2. Explore your external network
Update your LinkedIn and search people with job titles that sound interesting to you. You can even search people in a specific industry or company.
3. Schedule Informational Interviews
Once you’ve identified people you want to reach out to, ask them for an informational interview. You’ll want to make sure that person has capacity and interest in being a mentor. Here is how to schedule an informational interview.
4. Join a mentor/mentee program
You should see if your employer offers any mentorship programs at work. Or research any professional organizations within your city to see if they offer any mentor programs. One advantage of joining a mentorship program is that all of the people who are participating want a mentee or mentor to connect with.
After you find a mentor, here are
three things you need to establish:
Meeting Cadence: How often do you and your mentor want to meet?
Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?
How You Want To Meet: Face to face or over the phone?
Meeting Topic: What do you want to talk to your mentor about?
Maybe you want to grow your network or learn about other functions around the company. Regardless of the reasons you wanted a mentor, here are some suggested questions to help you navigate your mentor/mentee conversations:
Your mentor can help you develop, grow your network, and give perspective in your career and educational choices.
Questions to ask during your mentor/mentee meetings:
- How should I develop my weaknesses? Develop my strengths?
- What interpersonal or technical skills should I focus on developing?
- What roles would you recommend next?
- Are there any leadership opportunities you are aware of?
- What are your thoughts about getting an MBA or a master’s degree in this specific field?
- Are there any certificate programs you have taken that you would recommend?
- Looking into a new role?
- Example: “I’m interested in this role at this organization, do you have any contacts you’d recommend I can reach out to for an informational interview? I want to learn more about this role/speak to a hiring manager.”
- Looking to learn about other functions – sales, marketing, finance, etc?
- Example: “I’m interested in these organizations are there any individuals you would suggest I reach out to?
- Sharing a TED Talk topic is a great way to connect. (Examples: leadership, perseverance, failure, etc.)
- What books or podcasts have you read or listened to that you would recommend?
- Can you please go over my resume for this role?
- What is your advice to creating goals?
- How do you balance having a family and a career?
- Keep it Casual: Spring break or summer vacation plans? How is the family doing?
What are your tips on finding a mentor?
Thank you for reading!
Photos: Holly Phan