How to find a mentor

Mentorship has been popping up in my life a lot lately.  In the past two weeks, I’ve attended the 10-year anniversary for Stanford’s alumni-student mentoring program, met with my own mentor of 16 years, had dinner with my mentee of 6 years, and volunteered to be a mentor at UC Berkeley’s Women Empowerment Day.

It was at that last event that one of the young women asked a great question:  In the absence of formal mentoring programs, how do I find a mentor?

mentor

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For Winnie

Sometime back in 2007, I was out on the balcony of Cheesecake Factory atop the Macy’s Union Square, eating an early dinner.  Sitting across from me was my mentee Winnie, who was a junior at UC Berkeley at the time, and a friend she had brought along.  Winnie had just landed a summer internship at a large cosmetics company.  I was giving her advice on how to structure succinct yet effective communications, something I had learned during my first job out of undergrad.

“Wow, that’s really helpful.  You should totally write a book on this stuff or something,” her friend said.

It’s now February 2011.  Winnie is still my mentee, but now also a good friend.  In the past four years, I feel like I’ve shared a lot of lessons I had picked up along the way with Winnie, and with many others younger than me.  It’s finally gotten to the point where I repeatedly find myself having the same conversation and providing advice on the same topics, so I guess it is time to write these things down somewhere.

I didn’t come up with any of this stuff on my own; much of what I’ll be writing here I learned from others who were kind enough to share their thoughts and wisdom with me.  This is simply a compilation of advice and guidance I have found useful in my life.  I hope some pieces of it can be helpful to you, too.

Here goes.  For Winnie.  And for you.