Mentors

I guess I have a few mentors. Most of them don’t know they are my mentor. But it’s okay, I get them to give me advice anyway.

I always assumed that a mentor for me would be older, working in my field, probably a woman. Maybe we would get lunch a few times a year, check in, keep in touch, see each other at a conference. I hoped that this person would enjoy my ideas and enthusiasm, and offer advice on career strategy.

I firmly believe that mentors should not also be bosses. (I am willing to bet that there are people who firmly disagree.) I like the idea of a mentor being someone in your field who has a vested interest in you as a person, and not in how your performance will affect their organization. In graduate school, the head of our program filled this role, and she would say these great things to me, like “You want to work at a presenting organization, so you can meet lots of different artists!” She had these visions about my career with impressive frequency.

But I find more and more that my mentors are actually my peers. The people who help me think through problems at work, problems with my career, problems with my job search are, for the most part, women my own age, and for the most part, on my same professional level.

I wonder if this is typical, or if I am mis-applying the mentorship  relationship somehow.

I started poking around some blogs I read, including Entry Level Living from Allison Jones, who had recently co-hosted a chat on mentors for Millennials with Rosetta Thurman, another leader in the arena of non-profits and career development. It seems that these different concepts of mentorship are relatively common (in their experience).

I always wanted a mentor who was like a coach, who would be deeply invested in me for the long-term. I think my mentorship experience will be more like a quilt made up of different relationships or different durations. I think I’ll be stronger for it.

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