Medium for Teams

Feb 2

11 stories

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How to Find a Mentor

Discover what mentorship really is, whether it's right for you, and how to get started.

1. We have more access to information than ever before. Why bother with a mentor? Product manager Paul Zhao argues that experience and wisdom give you an edge that knowledge and info can't. “Be it a positive potential opportunity… a neutral but unfamiliar stage in life, or a negative and painful event, you can usually find someone who can shine a guiding light. That person(s) is your mentor.”
2. Rocio del Moral, also a product manager, quantifies the advantages mentees have over non-mentees while exploring who might be missing out. "If each of them had $10 in their pocket, the former would know how to invest that money for the long run with the help of mentors and guidance, while the latter would keep those $10 not knowing what to do next."
3. To find a mentor, you first need to understand what you're looking for. Here, Fintech professional Mary Agbesanwa outlines a handful of potential mentoring relationships to consider. "Above all, I think it is important to recognise what you need a mentor for. Which area of your career do you need advice on? How can they help you? What do you have to offer?"
4. If none of the relationships mentioned above seem like a good fit, maybe you aren't really looking for a mentor. Maybe you're looking for a coach. In this piece, productivity coach Liz Huber details the edge she believes one role has over the other. "Coaching gives you the structure to achieve your goals. Mentoring doesn’t always do that."
5. Or perhaps you need a sponsor. Matt Tanner, founder of Same Page HR, explains how this relationship differs from that of a mentor. He also provides a few tips on how to keep the connection healthy and cringe-free. "The issue—other than the fact that it’s hard to mentor someone you don’t know—was that this person wasn’t looking for a mentor at all when they emailed me. They were looking for assurance."
6. Family members you trust can make great mentors. In this heartwarming piece, a mother advises her college-bound daughter on role models, mentors, and her career. "Role models are people you can look up to, someone you might aspire to be like. Their impact can only be felt by you. They make you think about your internal goals — the things you might want to share with a mentor."
7. Next, you can begin the process of finding a mentor. Just remember - this isn't a hunt. As author and investor Darius Foroux demonstrates, establishing these relationships is less about the ask and more about the preparation. "You need basic knowledge of life and your field if you want to find a mentor. No one’s waiting for a puppy that they have to raise. It’s important to bring something to the table before you approach potential mentors."
8. When you've prepped as thoroughly as possible, it's time to make the ask. This step poses the most risk of cringe. Cringe you can easily avoid by learning from Linda Zhang's experience. "Here’s what people hear: will you blindly commit to spending 1:1 time with me even though I have given you no reason to do so, and don’t even have a real question?"
10. Finding a solid mentor will be harder for some. And yet, trying might still be worth your while. In this piece, black female writer Rebecca Stevens shares her experience with a white, male mentor. "My grandmother and mother always told me that if I worked hard enough, I would make it... In time, I have come to realize that many opportunities for advancement are not only based on performance, they are also strongly based on one’s network."