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Asked by Karen on June 30, 2017

Hi! I've heard people say that it can be useful to find a mentor in my first job or internship, but how do I go about doing that? Also, will that really benefit me or is it a waste of time?

Answered by Ashley, Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health, on July 5, 2017

Having a mentor is a very valuable relationship no matter where you are at in your career. Personally, I think having a mentor in your first job or internship is beneficial because you can use them as a resource to help you navigate the waters. Your manager is a great resource as well but your mentor can help you with advice or situations you may not be comfortable going to your manager for. Having a mentor is also a great way to expand your network beyond your team or department. This is especially valuable when you start to think about advancing your career within the company. Keep in mind, you will get out of the relationship what you put in. If you do have a mentor, ensure you are making the most of your meetings with him/her and that you are holding yourself accountable.
If you do not currently have any connections outside of your immediate team then I would recommend starting with your manager when trying to find a mentor. Let your manager know of your interest in having a mentor and ask if he/she has any recommendations of someone who may be willing. I would strongly recommend trying to find a mentor outside of your current department. If your manager can’t assist, use the rest of your team to help guide you in the right direction of finding a mentor.

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Answered by Amy , Hiring Expert at Textron Inc., on July 5, 2017

Having a mentor is a great way to elevate your professional capabilities and gain added knowledge. The benefits that come from a successful mentor/mentee relationship are truly endless. When first deciding who you would want as a mentor, think about someone you look up to professionally who either has a similar career you would like to pursue or has professional qualities you would like to achieve. I also recommend looking towards someone you like on a personal level as well as professional The best mentor/mentee relationships are those that come naturally and do not feel forced. Once you have established someone you see as fit I would reach out and start having a conversation on the topic. Let them know why you feel they would be a great mentor to you and make sure they are willing to do so. It's best to keep the communication open and decide how often you and your mentor would like to meet and whether your interactions will be more formal or informal. Mentorship is a great experience for growth and should never feel like a contract!

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Answered by Brittany, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, on July 5, 2017

Great question! It also sounds like you have some wise mentors in your life because having at least one sponsor a key aspect of gaining more exposure and advancing in any career.

First, identify your professional mentors and sponsors. Why is this important and what’s the difference? Mentors act as a sounding board and make you feel more comfortable, but they do not have the leverage to help you get ahead. Sponsors develop talent, strengthen your chances of getting promoted by helping you to become better at analyzing problems, drawing conclusions, and communicating your solutions within the scope of your job. At ManpowerGroup, we call these Career Conversations and they will ultimately change the scope and trajectory of your professional goals and accomplishments.

Currently don’t have a sponsor in mind? Determine where you need to improve and then seek out and connect with experts in those areas. By doing some research, you can bring that up in your initial correspondence.

Examples:

  • "I saw that you won X award in 2012 and 2013 -- that's quite impressive! I'm just starting off in this field and would love to grab coffee if you're free sometime in the next couple of weeks." 
  • "I recently came across the article you wrote, X X, and it was fantastic. You made some excellent points when bringing up X, Y, and Z. If you're able to, I would love to grab coffee and talk more about X X. Do you have any free time this week?" 

Of course, be professional but also genuine and make it your own. Warning to not get discouraged: Even if you do your research and craft the perfect email, sometimes people just do not have time in their schedule that month or season. Be patient, try again in a month or so, and keep reaching out to others until you find mentors that you have a genuine connection with.

Best of luck in your professional endeavors!

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Answered by James, Hiring Expert at Broadridge, on July 7, 2017

Mentors at your first role would be very valuable to your role with the company as well as your future career. Some companies will automatically assign a mentor or a someone to assist with your training or on-boarding. That would be a great place to start with connecting to a mentor. If you are not offered a mentor initially, I would recommend networking with your colleagues. Connect with them on LinkedIn, set up coffee meetings or grab lunch with them. When I was just starting my career, I connected with a colleague who was in a position that I had a great interest in. We had coffee and asked for her insight into the role and how I could get there. It was such a great experience to get an inside look into the job.

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Answered by Dean, Hiring Expert at Archer Daniels Midland, on July 11, 2017

Hi, Connecting with a mentor is not an automatic as it definetly takes both parties to be effective.  Start off with who do you have a great respect for.  It should not be your direct supervisor.  Get a sense if you have common interest and have a good rapport and straight up ask them to be your mentor.
I can tell you that having a mentor whether formally or informally will benefit both parties greatly, the key is how much effort you put into.  If you think it will be valuable it will be. If you think it will be a waste of time, it will be.  Go with the former. Good luck!
Dean

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