Q” How should a young, fresh-out-of-university girl go about finding a mentor?”

answered September 18th, 2012 by Phoebe Wright

This is a topical question for me, because my daughter has just graduated from UBC  and is going through a job search right now.   She wants something that will lead to a career, and she is learning to articulate what she wants and identify target positions.


I am one of her  mentors, but she needs more than me.  She needs people who can give her an outside perspective on herself, and she needs people connected to the job market, who can give her really practical advice and leads.  She also needs people who come at things from new angles, who can give really out of the box advice, and introduce new ideas and possibilities.   Penny is on a journey and learning as she goes.  From watching her, I am reminded about how exciting, intimidating, and confusing it all is at her stage.


So what does a new graduate need to look for in a mentor?


– patience and openness.  Someone who will listen and not lecture.

– connections and networking advice.  What should she say to the new contact?  How do you close a networking discussion?

– direct and constructive feedback.  A mentor needs to tell the mentee what they see and where the mentee may be getting off track.

– support and validation.  A mentor needs to be positive, to think about how they can help to validate the graduate.


How might a fresh-out-of-university girl go about finding a mentor?  My recommendations are not to look for the one-and-only mentor, but seek out the advice and counsel of lots of mentors – uncles, family friends, contacts from school, professors, and so on.  Be open to learning, but keep control of your career.  Educate yourself on the etiquette of networking.   Read books.  Ask people.


Learn to take feedback (yes, there are books on this too).  Sometimes a mentor can be brutally forthright in their opinion.  This can be discouraging. Consider what they have to say.  Sift through for the nuggets.  Disregard what is not helpful.  Seek clarification.


Launching your career is an exciting phase of life, and recognizing that you need mentors and advocates is an important building block.  You never know where a connection might lead!




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