How To Find A Mentor At Work | A Girl Boss Guide To Getting Career Advice

Today’s post was developed in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Let’s be honest, finding a mentor can be kind of awkward. And yet we’re consistently told that one of the best ways to advance in our careers is to find one. It’s not easy to find a mentor, I’ll never tell you that it is. But when you find a mutually beneficial mentor/mentee relationship, trust me, it’s worth all the awkwardness in the world.

The Ugly Truth About Mentorship

In my experience though, it’s harder for women to find good mentors. You see, sometimes there’s this weird dynamic at work among women and it’s one that I’d like us to stop. It’s this idea that if we help other women, they’re gonna take our jobs. It’s this idea that if we help other women succeed, it means that we’ll instead have to fail. It’s about competition instead of finding ways to lift each other up, and friends, no lie, that’s one of the reasons why so many women get stuck.

Some Companies Are Doing it Right

It makes me really happy to learn about companies that understand the value of mentorship. So when I found out about Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to women in the workplace, I knew I had to share it with you guys. Johnson & Johnson has been championing women and providing the tools, resources, and opportunities they need to succeed since its founding over 130 years ago. They’re committed to igniting the power of women to create a healthier tomorrow.

This is a company that’s committed to propelling the best female talent. At Johnson & Johnson, women hold 43% of manager positions across the U.S., and the women who work there have a strong network they can tap into to further develop in their careers.

Here’s a cute short video about more of their mentorship efforts:

Now before you start making phone calls and writing emails that start with, “Hi, will you be my mentor?” here are a few things you ought to remember that’ll help you find a mentor at work.

1. Figure Out What You Want to Gain From Having A Mentor

You have to have some kind of goal. What do you want to gain from this relationship? Do you want real, solid, blunt feedback about your performance? Do you want some advice on how to handle a specific work situation? Or do you want your mentor to wave some magical wand that gets you promoted in three months? If that’s the case, both you and your mentor are in for a whole lot of disappointment. Because dude, that’s NOT what mentorship is about.

So yes, have a reasonable and clearly defined goal. I mean, if you’re taking the time to engage in a relationship with another professional, and they’re taking the time to engage with you, there has to be a purpose. If I’m going to mentor someone, it’s because I see potential in them and there’s something in particular that I can help them with. Otherwise, yea, I’m a bit selfish with my time and I’d rather be home with my cat. It’s that simple.

2. Find Women In And Out Of Your Industry Who You Admire

Once upon a time ago, I wrote a post about pursuing a lifestyle you admire, as opposed to just a job. This same concept kind of applies to finding a mentor. When we think about finding a mentor at work, we tend to think that this person has to be a senior VP within our industry. We think that this person has to have had the same exact career path that we want to follow.

But that’s not exactly true, and there can actually be so much value in learning from women with different careers. As a soon to be mom, for example, it’s so helpful for me to learn from other women who have learned to successfully juggle being a mom and having a career. They don’t NEED to work in marketing. They don’t NEED to be copywriters, like me. They just need to be people living a similar lifestyle that I aspire to have myself, and what I’ve learned from them has been super helpful.

3. Remember That A Mentor Can Be A Peer

Then there’s this. Again, your mentor doesn’t have to be the CEO of a company. In fact, most of those super senior executives are gonna flat out tell you they don’t have time to talk to you. But that’s okay, because do you really want a mentor who feels like you’re a terribly inconvenient obligation? Ehhh… no. You don’t. You deserve better than that, and sometimes that means tapping into a peer relationship for that mentoring you’re looking for. Nothing wrong with that.

4. Take Advantage Of Online Mentorship

I’ve stalked people so hard online that I feel like I know them. I haven’t done anything crazy like shown up to their house or anything, but thanks to technology and Google, you can learn so much about some very successful people online. Like I said, people are busy. Not everyone will have the time to take your calls or have coffee meetings with you. But whenever possible, see what kind of information you can find online. Go to LinkedIn and study the different jobs that some of these executives have held. See if you can find a published interview that they’ve given. Have they written a book? If so, read it. And also know that it’s okay to engage in a virtual mentorship relationship with someone (via e-mail, Skype, etc.) You don’t need to have a face-to-face meeting every month in order for that exchange to be valuable.

5. It’s About Quality, Not Quantity 

Like I’ve already mentioned, people are busy. We’ve got lives, yo, so that makes regular meetings a little hard to schedule sometimes. But just because your mentor can’t commit to bi-weekly or monthly meetings doesn’t mean that the relationship can’t work. It’s about the time you do spend together that’s important. So make every moment count. When you meet, go prepared. Go with a list of questions and topics you want to cover. Some of the most helpful and inspiring meetings that have helped me in my career were with people I met with only ONCE. But boy did I make those moments count, and I’m thankful for each and every one of them.

So that’s it! Just a few pieces of advice to help you on your search for a mentor! And as always, I’m just an email away if you need anything!

Learn more about Johnson & Johnson and their commitment to women, here.

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4 Comments

  1. Abby

    October 30, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Wonderful article! Mentorship is such and important part of growing as a professional. I didn’t realize Johnson & Johnson was so committed to women in business! That’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing this lovely and inspiring post to start my week off right.

  2. Suagnthi Rajendran

    October 30, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    All points taken. Nice tips 🙂 Cheers!

  3. Taylor

    November 8, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Love this! I have had a couple of mentors in my life and I totally agree about women in the workplace! We need to come together!

  4. Mansi

    November 13, 2017 at 6:55 am

    It is true that finding women mentor is quite hard in this male dominating world. You don’t see women at the top position in the organisation. The male gets preference when it comes to having senior in the organization. I tried finding a mentor online but unable to find anyone who I can follow in the business. I think the best way to motivate you is to find what are the things that you can do better than anyone else in the world. Prepared yourself for learning A to Z about that product and create something new out of it which you can ultimately sale. This will open up new doors for you and you will become your own boss.

    You don’t need to have any mentor to support you. You can keep upgrading yourself to fight the competition and become the best in the industry.

    Thank you

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