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Having a mentor in your professional life can propel you to reach heights you probably wouldn’t have thought possible at this current stage in your career. Before you get there, you need to first figure out who would make the best mentor for you and your career goals, and what qualities they should possess. 

Where to look

Depending on the type of guidance you’re looking for in your professional or personal life, a manager, a more senior colleague at work or a university professor could be an ideal candidate. There’s also no need to limit yourself to one mentor, it’s definitely acceptable to have multiple mentors. Chances are that they’re going to focus on different parts of your life. Some companies also have mentorship programs, reaching out to your human resources department as the first step might prove helpful.

What to look for

Your mentor should be someone with experience and attributes you admire and perhaps, whose career paths best emulates the one you envision for yourself. They would have useful connections and insightful knowledge of the on-goings in your industry and company. After all, they need to be your eyes and ears in those closed door meetings you don’t have access to just yet in order to find you and put you up for the best possible opportunities. It’s vital to check if your prospective mentor already has too much on his/her plate, this person should not be too busy to set aside time once every week or fortnightly. Someone with leadership skills or experience in managing people will more likely be ready to jump into a mentorship role as well.

How to approach

Pluck up the courage and... just ask. While you may not see it, mentors also benefit from this relationship. Most people are actually more than happy to take someone under their wing and provide some career orientation and direction. If your prospective mentor is someone you haven’t worked with before, ask a colleague or your boss for an introduction. 

Now that you know what to look for, head out there and find yourself great career mentors who are going to give you that extra boost you need to achieve your goals.

Marco Eylert
Co-Founder | TalentSpace

Marco's a co-founder at TalentSpace, and he previously worked at McKinsey & Company, Roland Berger and Credit Suisse. He graduated from Bocconi University and Johns Hopkins SAIS, where he was a scholar of the Haniel Foundation and the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.

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