CHAPTER 20

How to Find a Mentor

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Whether you’re currently hunting for a new job, just getting started in one, or planning a change into a new field, it’s a good idea to have a mentor or sponsor at your side. You need someone in your corner to calm you, focus you, and push you beyond your comfort zone.

The term “mentor” reportedly originated in the mid-18th century from the Greek word Mentõr, the name of the adviser (Athena in disguise) of the young Telemachus in Homer’s Odyssey.

Under the guise of Mentor, an old friend of Telemachus’s father, Odysseus, Athena gives him the confidence and support to embark on his epic journey to learn about his father’s fate. She even collects the ship’s crew for him. Although Telemachus has little experience with public speaking, for example, Mentor gives him the encouragement that he needs to approach Nestor, the king of the city Pylos, and ask him about his father.

Your mentor isn’t likely to set you on such a bold course, but he or she may get you on board the boat and sailing ahead—even in rocky and unfamiliar seas, to keep the analogy rolling. We all need someone with experience and gravitas of whom we can ask questions without fear of looking stupid or putting our position in jeopardy.

Finding an unpaid advisor who has the time available to listen and counsel takes time and patience. A good mentor is not a career coach per se, though they may ...

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