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how to find a mentor

Finding someone to inspire you in today’s cubicle culture can be quite the mission, especially if you aren’t happy in your current role. How do you stay motivated, and still grow in your role, when you’re fetching coffee and making copies? Ideally, you find a mentor. Someone who has been through what you have, knows how to make the best of the situation, and isn’t afraid to tell you that hard truths. Here’s how to find a mentor.

1.  Find someone who is willing and happy to help.

This is the first hurdle to cross. It might seem obvious, but approaching someone who isn’t inclined to mentor you, even if they seem like the perfect candidate, is only going to waste both your time and energy. Find a likely person, and then politely approach them and ask them about their history and experience with mentoring others. They may already be an active mentor, or may not have the disposition (it does take a special sort of person to be a good mentor to others). Depending on their response, ask them if they would be able to mentor you.

2.  Find someone who believes in your development.

Once you know if the candidate is happy to mentor you, then you need to start asking them the important questions, like how active they’d like to be in the process. Ideally, the person you are asking to mentor you should inspire and challenge you – they shouldn’t be someone who is happy to see you coast and not succeed beyond your current capabilities. They should be pretty vocal in telling you how they’d like to help you reach your goals.

3.  Find someone who has time.

Again, this might seem like an obvious hurdle, but once you start talking to your candidate, you should (hopefully) be able to gauge whether or not they will be able to make time for you. This might happen in the first meeting, when you’ve asked them to be your mentor, or after a few not-so-successful attempts to meet up. Initially, they may be flattered that you asked, and excited to help you out, but not everyone is the master of their own calendar. After the first few meetings you should know whether or not your new mentor will be able to fit you into their schedule and you can plan from there (either scheduling future meetings, or finding a new mentor).

4.  Find someone above your position.

Looking for someone on your peer level, even if they’ve been in the position for a while, will not benefit you in the long run. Anyone that’s on your pay grade will only have experiences similar to yours, so you’re better off trying to find someone who has had more time in the working world than you. They’ll have more advice, more life lessons, and more to tell you, than someone who is on your level. So don’t just look around you, look above you, when you’re searching for a mentor.

5.  Find someone outside of your area.

Or, ideally, find someone who isn’t at your place of work (if you can). There are politics involved in every department, and you’ll be better off finding someone who lives outside the everyday drama of your area. They will have a different perspective, a different set of goals, and a different set of experiences. That nagging boss you have? They dealt with theirs, and they’ll tell you how. That difficult project? They saw the presentation, and they can give you feedback. Having someone who isn’t directly connected to your work is even better, because they can bring a totally new outlook to your everyday experiences, and a fresh set of eyes to your goals and objectives. They aren’t biased, don’t know your coworkers, and don’t care about office drama; basically they’re the perfect sounding board and motivational speaker.

Overall, finding a mentor involves searching for someone that you think you will be able to make a connection with. It doesn’t always have to feel comfortable, as some of the best mentors challenge us to step outside our comfort zones. And you don’t have to settle for just one mentor either. Multiple people inspiring, challenging, and driving you towards your goals can only be a good thing. So start your search for your next mentor, and you’ll begin to reap the benefits in your work life, and your personal life too!


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