The Do’s and Don’ts of Finding a Mentor in Your First Job

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Finding a Mentor in Your First Job

Recently, I was interviewed by USA Today and NerdWallet writer, Brianna McGuran, about tips to help new college graduates to find a mentor in their first job.  There were some great ideas in the article that can apply to new graduates and more experienced professionals. The top points were:

  • Do consider a mid-career mentor from within your own network.

I always recommend that you have a network of different types of mentors. So think about having a circle of mentors rather than just one. Have a traditional mentor who can introduce you to the key players in your industry, along with a step-ahead mentor who is one level up from you. In addition, be sure to include peer mentors in your mentoring circle to provide emotional support and who are going through the same experience as yourself.

  • Don’t be afraid to meet new mentors at industry events.

One of the best ways to brand yourself as a professional is to develop visibility in your field.  I suggest developing visibility both online and in person. Use LinkedIn groups and start becoming active in industry specific groups. In person, go to those networking meetings, eat the rubber chicken, chat with people and volunteer to serve on committees- volunteering your time is a great way to develop your social capital in the industry of your choice.

  • Do decide on specific goals and meeting times.

I had a mentor tell me he was like a blank check. He made it very clear he was available to me but it was up to me to set goals, meeting times and manage the logistics.  As the protégé, assume it your job to keep the relationship moving forward, unless your mentor requests otherwise.

  • Don’t immediately ask for a job.

Timing is everything. If you develop a solid circle of mentors and take the time to develop strong relationships, then when you need to ask for a job it will be a natural progression of the relationship.  Remember, mentors benefit when they recommend talented people for jobs so be seen as someone with high potential helps not only you but also reflects positively on your mentor.

Read on for more ideas about finding a mentor in your first job.


About Ellen Ensher

Ellen A. Ensher, Ph.D. is a Professor of Management at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, USA. Dr. Ensher has an established expertise in mentoring programs and career advice, and is a frequent key note speaker and workshop leader for conferences and public and private organizations around the world. Google +
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3 Responses to The Do’s and Don’ts of Finding a Mentor in Your First Job

  1. fuweiyingzi says:

    “The Do’s and Don’ts of finding a mentor in your first job” suggested in this blog offers four suggestions: finding mentors from different network who can form a circle (peer mentor, traditional mentor, step-ahead mentor, etc.); plan and decide detailed goals with meeting time and logics with your mentor to keep with your mentor in frequent touch; trying to be active in one’s own field both online (such as LinkedIn Groups) and in person (networking meetings); asking for a job at a proper time instead of immediately.
    It is of great benefit to me because I am currently planning my future career and looking for ways on how to start and get to know professionals in my field. I am encouraged by the suggestions that being active both online and in person and therefore I have registered a LinkedIn account to join professional groups.
    The article in the following website published by Forbes is also very interesting and useful in helping us find a great mentor. The very first point the author proposes is that it is better and more effective to find a mentor around people you already interact and work with. These people understand your character and your potential and therefore may be more willing to be your mentor. And they know that you will make full use of their guidance input with proper feedback. Another suggestion the author gives in this article is that try to follow and help the work of strangers if you really want them to be your mentor but do not ask for mentor directly. Similarly, the author also offers suggestions to joining LinkedIn groups and to interact with other people.
    Several questions that I still have are as follows. First, when talking with people of step-ahead, how do you overcome the nervous? Usually I need to plan carefully before I go for mentoring talk so that I will not forget what to discuss. How about you? Second, how do you deal with mentors who are very wordy and nagging all the time?

  2. sarahfrisz says:

    Mentors from your job, your desired job, your circle of peers, as well as those going through the same experience can provide emotional and practical support all in one. Additionally, having a mentor who is available, like a blank check, is a privilege that needs to be taken advantage of, so making actual plans ensure that you will keep the relationship moving forward.
    I personally believe that having a mentor that is at the same level as you in your career, as well as having a mentor that is a step ahead in the position is extremely valuable. It allows you to learn about where you are and where you strive to be. My summer internship in 2015 allowed me to develop a relationship with the CEO in which he taught me about the marketing industry and was able to refer me to a paid job.
    http://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/mentor2.htm
    In this article, “The Importance of having a good mentor”, writer Gregeory Smith discusses the need to consider time limits, just as Professor Ensher’s article discusses having goals and meeting times. As a mentee, it is understandable to expect adequate time, but the newcomer should not expect excessive amounts of time. The article also discusses that confidentiality is important. Although this is a professional relationship, I believe it is important to make it known that the discussion will be kept between them and not relayed to managers or supervisors.
    I still do have a couple questions regarding mentoring. When does the mentorship end? Is there a conversation where a mentee asks a mentor to be his or her mentor, or is it something that is assumed as time progresses? Additionally, how does a mentorship end? I am curious if the mentee stops reaching out to his or her mentor, or if there is a set date that the mentorship has agreed upon at the beginning of the relationship.

  3. Katherine Francis says:

    Katherine E. Francis
    Management Blog Posting: “The Do’s and Don’ts of Finding a Mentor in Your First Job”
    This blog post gives four helpful tips for college graduates who are trying to find mentors during their first job. The first tip is to have a network of different types of mentors, such as a mentor who can introduce you to other key mentors within your industry or peer mentors who share your similar experiences. The second tip is to be engaging at industry events and be visible to potential mentors within the industry, whether in person or through LinkedIn groups. The third tip is to be responsible, set goals, set meeting times, and keep in touch with your mentor. The last tip is to develop strong relationships before asking for a job.
    I agree with this blog post’s tips because as I have begun internships, networking has been harder than I expected. Whenever I meet industry professionals, I feel fortunate to be receiving advice, but I can still find it to be challenging to be memorable. As a result, I gained a lot of knowledge from the second tip to be visible and continue to make connections. Also, I think the first tip is helpful, especially with peer mentors, who will act as a support system since they are also going through similar experiences.
    Ladder’s, which is a website geared towards hiring and career advice, relates to this blog post in the article “How to Find the Right Mentor to Advance Your Career.” The author, Amanda Augustine, explains the benefits of a peer mentor and how sharing information can help expand your networking resources and goals. She also agrees to not be afraid to approach someone and ask questions that relate to the industry.
    http://info.theladders.com/career-advice/five-types-of-mentors-to-advance-your-career
    Questions: How can I be memorable to potential mentors? What are some interesting questions to ask at industry events? Does competition occur between peer mentors?

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