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Career Advice

How to Find A Kick-Ass Mentor At Your Job

Posted by Julia Malacoff

November 11, 2016

Having a mentor is amazing for many reasons, no matter where you find them. While there are certain advantages to having an advisor who works outside your company, there are also some major pluses to having one who works for the same organization you do.

First off, they will already understand a lot about the company you work for, especially what its priorities are and how you can potentially advance. If you’re happy in your company and career area, this is really an amazing option because someone within the same framework will know how to help you move onward and upward better than anyone else. Secondly, it won’t be hard to meet up with them since you’re most likely already in the same geographic location, meaning they might be more willing to take you on as a mentee since the arrangement would be relatively convenient. But how exactly can you go about finding this person within your office? Here are five key things you need to do to find your perfect (professional) match where you work.

Here are five key things you need to do to find your perfect (professional) match where you work.

1. Have your own path planned.


If you really want a mentor, you can’t expect them to give you all the answers. At the very least, you need to have your main career goals worked out — otherwise, they aren’t going to be able to help you very much. Having an idea of where you’d like to go in the company, what responsibilities you’d want to take on, which areas you want to improve, and what your ultimate end goal is will make a mentorship more worthwhile, for both people involved.

[Related: 5 Signs You've Got a Bad Mentor]
2. Take a look at who you already interact with.

Is there someone in your office who you always go to for advice, who regularly calls on you to contribute to meetings, gives you special projects, or asks for your opinion? Whether you realize it or not, this person may already be serving as your mentor. If this sounds familiar to you, there’s actually no need to formalize your relationship as a mentor and mentee. If they seem open to it, ask them to grab coffee or a meal with you so you can get more detailed feedback on your performance, hear more about their career trajectory, as well as discuss how you can be helpful to them. Mentorships are a two-way street, after all. The best mentorships are informal, so if you find yourself in this situation, count yourself lucky.

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3. Look beyond your team.

If your boss doesn’t seem like a good fit to be your mentor, try going outside your department to find someone who would be better. Depending on the size of your company, there may be teams or departments that are related to yours where you can able to find someone who works in an analogous field and will be able to understand your job. Also, remember that your mentor doesn’t have to be in the same job function as you are; having a relationship with a colleague who has a different perspective could give you a helpful reality check.

5 Things To Do With Your Mentor That Don't Include Coffee]
4. Seek out someone who has the skills to be a mentor.

Not every person in a senior position is going to be a good mentor — part of your job as a mentee is to hone in on who actually has the chops to help guide you. One way people show you this is by volunteering feedback without you asking for it. Also, don’t shy away from someone who has given you constructive criticism in the past. They wouldn’t have given it to you if they didn’t see your potential and want to help you improve; those are two qualities you definitely want in a mentor, right? It’s also worth it to identify people who possess skills you want to work on and pursue them as possible advisors. Is one of your superiors an incredible negotiator and you want to work on your boardroom bartering? Well, then that’s a no-brainer.

[Related: So You've Hit A Career Plateau—Now What?]
5. Don’t be afraid to go to the top.

The people at the very top of your company’s corporate structure might be short on time, but they’re also heavy on experience and insight. If you have any kind of relationship with your company’s leadership (it’s best not to ask a complete stranger to be your mentor) and think that someone in the upper echelons of your organization might be a good fit, go ahead and ask. The worst that can happen is they’ll say no. If that happens, don’t take it personally, but definitely do ask if they have any other recommendations. After all, a CEO only has so many hours in their day, right?


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