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Friday, July 22, 2016

You Need a Career Mentor? 8 Places to Find one Outside Your Office

By now you know that having a mentor is critical to your career success. Not only does a mentor have your back, says Monster's career expert Vicki Salemi, but he or she will serve as a sounding board, provide encouragement and support, and guide you toward job opportunities you may never have considered otherwise.
But where does one find a mentor? Your boss has enough on his or her plate without you asking for professional advice, you figure. "Mentors are everywhere and anywhere," says Jill Jacinto, millennial career expert and associate director of communications for WORKS. And here, our experts give you anywhere and everywhere too look, other than your office, with eight easy starting places.
1. Your last place of employment. Your last higher-up thinks highly of you—so he or she should be willing to continue to guide you even after you've left the company. "If you had a great relationship with your former boss—one in which he or she often guided you while pointing out areas for improvement because he or she wanted to see you succeed—they could potentially be an excellent mentor," Salemi says. "Simply ask your former boss to be your mentor by saying that you enjoyed his or her leadership style when you worked for him or her, and you are hoping for continued guidance in your career journey."
2. Inside your social circle. Your BFF isn't just good for after-work gossip. A friend who works hard and who is all about the hustle may have valuable insight that can help you boost your career, says Jacinto. "Instead of meeting at a bar to chat about boys or the new season of Orange Is the New Black, use this as a mentoring session," she suggests. "Talk about your careers. Find her hustle secret. Ask for her guidance." Jacinto says that women might resist the urge to bring up work so as to not seem boastful—or worse, whiny. You won't. "Your friend most likely wants to help you and give you tips, but she won't do it if you don't ask for her insight," she says.
3. In your Instagram feed. LinkedIn is the obvious social networking site on which to scope out potential mentors. But Karen Elizaga, executive coach and author of Find Your Sweet Spot, suggests scanning Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, too, to find people in your industry whom you admire. "Searching social media expands your network beyond your close community," she says. "Watch people’s posts and photos to observe how they operate in the world—issues they care about and professional achievements—and then reach out in the same way."
4. At an industry event. You're not going to saunter up to a stranger and ask him or her to help guide your career path. But, according to Salemi, "you can and should keep an eye out at conferences and industry mixers for people you click with." Let's say you fell hard for the business philosophies of one of the speakers. Salemi would encourage you to approach her when her talk has wrapped up, inviting her for a follow-up over a cup of coffee. "If they’re open to it and there’s professional chemistry, they may be a viable prospect to become your next mentor," she explains.

5. On the World Wide Web. "This might sound odd," warns Jacinto, "but you don't need to necessarily interact with your mentor for them to inspire you." That's right—reading a profile of your favorite entrepreneur or picking up the biography of your industry's biggest big-wig could give you the career insight you need to kick it up a notch. "You can always improve your career by learning from people you admire—famous or not," says Jacinto.
6. At the local coffee shop. IRL, you come across dozens of people who could make excellent career mentors, whether on a beach vacation, at the bar, or at a party. If career inspiration catches your eye at the local coffee shop, don't be shy, Elizaga encourages. "If you have a substantive conversation and find that there is a similar career path that intrigues you, cultivate that relationship by asking questions and sharing about your background," she says. "I have witnessed this kind of a mentor relationship transpire over casual and fun drinks at hotel poolside many times."
7. In your alumni association. "Your alma mater’s career office is a virtual untapped resource for job searching, networking, and finding mentors," says Salemi. Even better, some school offer mentoring programs between alumni, doing the hard work of searching for the right fit for you. If not, "someone who’s dedicated to his or her alma mater will likely be more to open your initial email when he or she sees your school name in the subject line," Salemi says. "You can write something like, 'I noticed you’re involved with the career office and I’m an experienced professional. I’d love to hop on a phone call to get your insights into the industry.'"

8. In the intern room. Taking career tips from someone who has yet to climb the corporate ladder might seem like career suicide. Jacinto admits as much. "It sounds very odd for your intern to mentor you," she says. "But, that intern is coming into your business with a wealth of tech, social-media knowledge, and energy. With that, they can help give your insight into, 'what the kids are into.' And they can also teach you how to Snapchat and tell you the new apps that should be on your radar."

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