How to Find and Relate to a Career Mentor

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  • 0:05 Mentor
  • 1:22 Finding One
  • 3:29 Nurturing the Relationship
  • 5:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

A mentor can help a person advance in their career and give them advice when they are in difficult situations. Watch this lesson to learn how to find a mentor and how to nurture that relationship over time.


Tully wants to be the CEO of a big company one day. He just finished college, so he's starting out in an entry-level sales position. How can he go from being a brand new guy on the sales floor to running a Fortune 500 company?

There are many different ways that Tully can go from where he is today to where he wants to be, and there are many decisions that he will have to make along the way. For example, how can he impress his bosses and make them believe that he is promotion-worthy? What skills should he be honing to make him a good future CEO? The questions are endless. Where can Tully get answers?

A good resource is a mentor, or a trusted advisor. Mentors are generally people who are in a position similar to the one that you want. For example, Tully might seek out a CEO to be his mentor since that's the position he wants.

Mentors offer advice, inspiration, and a chance to network, among other things. All of Tully's questions about how to impress his bosses and what skills he should be honing can be answered by a good mentor.

Let's look closer at how Tully can find a mentor and nurture the relationship so that it is a long-term one.

Finding One

Tully needs a mentor to give him advice and help him figure out how to go from entry-level sales to the corner office. But how can he even begin? Where does one find a mentor?

First, Tully needs to figure out wants and needs. What does he want from a mentor? What does he need? Mentor-mentee relationships can be very formal and highly structured or they can be informal and unstructured. For example, Tully could find a mentor who meets with him once a month or he could find one who is just there when Tully needs to talk. Knowing what he wants from a mentorship is an important first step in finding a mentor.

When he knows what he wants, Tully should look within and outside the company where he works. A mentor should not be his immediate boss, because Tully should feel comfortable coming to the mentor with issues he's having at work. But the mentor could be someone in another department, or it could be someone in a different company.

Tully can find a mentor through networking or through organizations that offer formal mentorship programs. For example, his college offers an alumni mentorship program that he can participate in. Alternatively, Tully could find a mentor when he talks to someone at a conference. He could even find one through networking online via social media sites.

Next, Tully should ask for help from the mentor. In a formal mentorship, this help is often expressed in terms of 'Will you be my mentor?' But more often, Tully will want to start with a small request for a piece of advice and then build the relationship. He might want to approach someone he admires and say something like, 'I really admire you and would love to be where you are one day. I was wondering if you could give me some quick advice about this situation I'm facing at work.'

The advice Tully asks for could be some issue he's having at work or it could be something like what skills he should build to make himself better at his job and ready for the promotion he eventually wants to get.

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