Career Advice

Finding a Mentor Who is a Good Match for You
Anthony Fasano posted on April 10, 2011 |
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of my book Engineer Your Own Success:

Finding a good mentor is not always easy. There are plenty of them out there, but you need to find the one that works best for you and your plans. An important first step in finding a mentor is reviewing your goals and understanding where you want to go in your career. Once you are comfortable with your career plan, then you can go ahead and try to find a mentor that matches up well with your vision. I recommend that you find someone that has achieved similar goals, as they will be able to give you specific advice on the steps you should take.

When you are ready to start looking for a mentor, check with your Human Resources department as many companies have formal mentoring programs. If this type of assistance is not available through your company, ask some of the other engineers in your firm if they have worked with a mentor or know of any engineers that may be interested in mentoring.

If your co-workers can’t help you, ask your supervisor if he/she knows of someone, either within or outside the company that would be interested in mentoring a younger engineer. Don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor for help. Based on my experience they will not think less of you for asking for assistance. Actually, your initiative and drive to better yourself will most likely impress them. You may or may not want to ask your supervisor directly to be your mentor. As you already have a lot of interaction with this person, sometimes adding a mentoring aspect to the relationship could make your working relations somewhat overbearing. It may be best to consider someone else so you get a different perspective from what you are already learning from your supervisor.

If you can’t find a mentor within your company, check with your local professional engineering societies. Many of these have mentoring programs where they will pair you up with a more experienced engineer in your particular field. Whether or not you are a member of any relevant organization, you still may be able to participate in their mentoring program, so definitely contact them for more information.

If you still can't find a mentor through any of these sources, you can always turn to the Internet. While it would be nice to have a person specifically recommended to you, there are plenty of websites where you can connect with people that may be a good match for you. For example, you can use the social networking site LinkedIn to search by zip code for mentors in your area. The mentoring relationship can work in person, over the telephone, or through web applications (i.e. Skype), if you are comfortable with those formats, so don’t put geographic limits on your search.

Yes, it may take some time and effort to find a great mentor, but if you do your research and select the right person, they can have a profoundly positive impact on your career. If you don’t find the right person the first time, try again. There are so many people out there that want to help you – you just have to ask!

The rest of Chapter 3 will discuss the mentoring relationship in detail including the importance of accountability and give strategies for getting the most out of the mentoring relationship.

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This is a guest post by Anthony Fasano, PE, author of Engineer Your Own Success. Anthony found success as an engineer at a very early age and now writes and podcasts to help other engineers do the same. Visit Anthony’s website at and subscribe to the top 3 resources Anthony has used to become a partner in a firm at the age of 27.

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