Do you guys have a mentor? Or some of you may be a mentor…What questions do you ask to your mentor and what conversations do you guys have? Also, what do you expect to get out of mentorhsip?

This doesn’t seem to be the right attitude. Most of the time, a mentor isn’t really “getting” all that much out of a protege, and so the protege doesn’t really have the right to “expect” anything.

A better approach is to ask how to best to benefit from the willingness of someone to be a mentor.

A mentor is a bit like a “professional uncle.” They are older, more experienced, and shouldn’t have direct responsiblity for you (though occasionally they do). For whatever reason, they like you and want to help you do well, and most often that reason is that you remind them a bit of themselves at a younger age and this is their opportunity to undo mistakes they have made or repeat successes they had vicariously.

There are some people who take on mentoring roles also to build connections and alliances across a firm and to get better information flows that they wouldn’t ordinarily get, but most of the time there is genuine warmth and welcoming in a mentor relationship.

Mentors are good for helping you plot out your career steps, figure out what are good projects to work on, how to prioritize tasks, what the next logical steps in your career are, how to network and who to network with. They can help you answer questions like “how long should I do X before I try to move to something else,” “how should i deal with the fact that my boss or colleauges seem to be unreasonable on Y”. They can help you figure out strategic questions within a firm, because they are experienced, but because they don’t usually have direct responsibility for you, they can be more objective (though be careful if there are clear animosities between a mentor and someone you need to interact with a lot).

Mentors eventually have a network of former protegees. It’s interesting that I used to help my former students get jobs. Now, sometimes they help me. It’s an interesting dynamic, particularly with those students that I genuinely liked and admired.

Wait, former students? Do you mean former classmates and underclassmen?

I have a former manager that is kinda like a mentor to me. He was the SVP of my group, and, when he left the company, we’ve remained good friends. Bchad’s note of having a network of former proteges is spot on. I’ve met a ton of great new people (and keep in touch with old colleagues) because of him.

I’ve found that the people who are in this mentor / protege group are people that I would genuinely want to be friends with. I think that’s a key part of having a good relationship with your mentor / protege. It can’t feel like a business transaction. You have to be comfortable enough with each other to be candid about people and situations.

I participate in a student mentorship program for my university (I am the mentor to current students). The most helpful thing I’ve done is edit their resumes and cover letters, and coach them for interviews. Other than that, I don’t think the program has been really useful.

I also have a mentor in the company I work for. The company orgainizes the program and matches the mentor/mentee pairs. It’s interesting to talk to older people from other divisions, since they know different things. It’s more of a way to meet people than anything else. Plus, we get free meals as a program incentive.

Thank you very much for the feedback…I totally agree with bchadwick. My first question sounded naive. My “mentor” is an excecutive level at a different company here in NYC. She helps me with career choice and gives me her honest opinion about the things I want to do and am doing. Very positive and helpful… I am hoping our relationship will flourish as a mentor and a protege…

I need a mentor…any takers?

^ Call up Hugh Hefner.

I can mentor FrankArabia but I’m neither classy nor hot. oh for two

I’ve never had a formal mentor, but I do have a couple of friends that are older and have been in the industry longer than me. I do bounce ideas off them and talk shop with them. I wouldn’t call them a mentors so much as friends and part of my professional network.

I need a mentor too! I didn’t have any relatives in financial services, so didn’t get much guidance growing up. I will be entering the real world in less than a month!

I feel I’ll end up taking out NINJA loans that are sold to investors if I don’t get guidance…