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No matter the career level, a mentor can always be beneficial. [Image: U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine]

In college or in starting a career, there are often many opportunities and resources to help one locate and secure a mentor. But, as one begins to climb up the career ladder, these offerings tend to fall away. Does that mean that those in the mid- to late-career stages should forget about being on the receiving end of a mentoring relationship? Maybe not, according to some career pros.

Landing a mentor at any stage

In a 2016 Forbes article, Caroline Ceniza-Levine offers an informed “listicle” of 10 ways to land a mentor. First, she encourages one to consider what sort of relationship would best suit their needs: that of an advisory mentor, or an active sponsor. From there, she advises thinking outside of the box—she advocates that there is no need to limit yourself to a sole mentor or one kind of mentor, as mentors from other organizations or industries could be equally or even more beneficial.

Ceniza-Levine also counsels that, in finding a mentor, it’s important not to rush the process. Start slow, and build methodically to find a mentor worth courting, rather than one that just checks all the boxes.

Furthermore, a 2016 article in The Atlantic notes that having a “superstar mentor” can come with more hazards than any flashy name may be worth. The author of that article, Gillian B. White, cites a paper published by researchers from the University of Notre Dame, USA, and shares the research team’s findings that having an impressive name behind you only carries weight for about a year or so before wearing off. Once that initial year passes, “An acolyte’s career trajectory after that often involves lateral, not vertical, moves.”

Be mindful

It’s important, according to Ceniza-Levine, to be “mentor-worthy.” If a mentor is offering their skillset, time, experience and maybe even network, one must be respectful of their efforts and presence. By being organized, on time, and open to feedback you can become mentor-worthy, showing that you make “things happen, and not just depend on others for help.” (Another Forbes article explains how to tactfully ask for help “the right way,” versus a pushy or demanding ask that may leave mentors reluctant toward helping you.) Additionally, Ceniza-Levine suggests that one useful exercise in becoming mentor-worthy is by serving as a mentor yourself, to learn firsthand about what mentors might expect from a mentee.

An article from Engineering and Technology News takes a similar view. Author Georgina Bloomfield writes, “Mentoring is all about the passing down of knowledge but it isn’t a one-way street. Once you’ve learned plenty and you can apply it well in your professional life, you should think about teaching others who are in the same position you once were.”