Career Mentors: Finding the Best Guides for Your Journey

Written by Nathan Miller

Graphic Design by Kusum Verma

A young adult male sitting at a table with a young adult female providing career mentoring.

The story of mentorship is as old as time. It began with The Odyssey and continues with modern tales like The Legend of Zelda or Harry Potter. But throughout it all, the idea has remained the same. A wise individual helps a hero on their journey. But what about the journey of your career? While getting a mentor appears easy in every tale, it seems more challenging to do in reality. You don’t just go looking for old men in caves to mentor you. You could try it, though I wouldn’t recommend it. Luckily, I plan to show you some tricks to help you find the best mentor(s) for your career. A mentorship in finding mentors, if you will.

What Is A Career Mentor?

Some people hear this term and picture a coach or an overly critical boss who dictates them with no room for error. This assumption will only stress you out until you become too anxious to ask for help. But you don’t need to stress. Career mentors don’t give orders; they listen and advise.

Imagine getting coffee with your pal, who happens to be working at a job you want that provides true purpose. They’re successful, and you want to discover every secret they used to get to that job. So, you ask them questions about their work to gain insight from their experiences. They answer as they ask about your career goals. They serve as guides to help you figure out ways to achieve your goals.

A career mentor is a career-based friend. While they cannot do things like give out promotions, they show you the tricks that may lead to getting one. It is a professional relationship, but don’t let the word “professional” intimidate you. Just focus on it being a relationship. It takes time and effort to work out for both sides. Your mentor may not agree to help you if you don’t put in the effort to work hard in your relationship with them. To start that relationship, you need to know what to look for.

Best Qualities in a Career Mentor

There are many different attributes that you could look for in a career mentor. Most qualities vary based on one’s own personal preferences. I recommend looking for someone who loves their career. A film director once told me that people who work based on their beliefs often do better than those who are just “doing their job.” They give the best insight because they have a true passion for their work and want to share it with others. This makes them the very best in their field and true mentor material.

Another thing to look for is someone willing to take the time to mentor you. Mentors typically know the ins and out of their careers. A downside is that sometimes it will make them too busy to consider mentoring others. But if you find someone willing to at least spare the time to respond to a message, that is already a great start. You want someone who puts in the same effort you do toward this relationship. An easy starting point would be reaching out to someone you already know.

I Know A Guy

As you look for mentors, you should start with people already in your life. It could be your co-workers, friends, or even that bus driver you see every morning on the way to work. For example, a mentor of mine is one of my former managers. I know him to be very knowledgeable and easy to get along with. So, when I saw him buying coffee one day, I asked if he had time to talk about mentorship. He agreed, and we discussed it a few days later.

You want someone that knows you well enough to be honest with their advice. The people we know are often these people as they care enough to do this so we can improve ourselves. Plus, it is much easier to ask for help from someone you know than from someone you don’t. As the saying goes, “it’s better to work smarter than harder.” Though, just because someone knows you doesn’t mean they’ll agree to mentor you. However, they may know someone who could be a good fit for you.

Meeting new people can be hard, but knowing the same people makes that process easier. In a study by Mic, most couples said they met this way. While it is a dating-based study, the research here proves the effectiveness of meeting others through knowing the same people. By meeting mentors through a mutual friend, you have something in common. Their mentor will trust you because they trust your friend. Plus, by knowing the right people, meeting their friends will build even more connections. This is especially helpful when searching for mentors through social media.

Connecting Online

A strength of social media sites like LinkedIn is how easy they make it to find people with mutual connections. These sites show you who your friends and colleagues know, some of whom may help advance your career. But what if I don’t know anybody? What if I have no friends and sit alone eating mint n’ chip ice cream with my dog at night? Well, there’s nothing wrong with eating ice cream or spending time with your dog. But using social media can help you end those sad, lonely nights without a purpose-filled career.

It may seem scary at first, but social media allows you to meet others easily. You connect by simply sending a message. You just need to reach out. That’s it. It couldn’t be easier to talk to a mentor when starting is as simple as sending a message. Most people use social media, so finding at least someone won’t be challenging. It could even help significantly if you try to get many connections.

Hiring managers use LinkedIn often, so it would be helpful to build up your network, so you’re more visible. They are impressed by people with a strong network, so be sure to add as many people as possible. We have a blog here to discuss the importance of LinkedIn further. But above all else, the primary strategy for you in finding a mentor is to simply ask people.

Asking For Help

So many people often refuse to ask for help because they’re afraid people will say no. I was once given a line of advice from the mentor mentioned above that stuck with me. “Do what others won’t do today so tomorrow you can do what others can’t.” Everyone is afraid of rejection, but if you keep trying, you will find that one person who says yes. Those who don’t reach out typically regret it as they watch you shine on. It’s scary, but once you introduce yourself, your mentorship could begin. Just think, it all started because you took the chance to ask someone to mentor you. You may even find someone who becomes a life-long friend.

If you need more mentor-like guidance, check out our other fantastic blogs. We are here to help you on the next step of your career-changing journey.

Have a Super Day!

Nathan's Headshot

Nathan Miller

Growing up, I have always had a passion for creativity and media. I love movies, video games, and just about everything else. Since then, my dream has been to write content that brings the same joy to others that media has brought me.