Mentors: How to Find One and How to Be One, with Marci Alboher

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Transcript

Find Your Dream Job, Episode 147:

Mentors: How to Find One, How to Be One, with Marci Alboher

Airdate: July 11, 2018

Mac Prichard:

Hi, this is Mac of Mac’s List. Find Your Dream Job is presented by Mac’s List, an online community where you can find free resources for your job search, plus online courses and books that help you advance your career. My latest book is called Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. It’s a reference guide for your career that covers all aspects of the job search, including expert advice in every chapter. You can get the first chapter for free by visiting macslist.org/anywhere.

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host, and publisher of Mac’s List. I’m joined by my co-hosts, Leila O’Hara and Jessica Black, from the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about mentors: how to find one and how to be one.

A job search is not a solo act. To get a gig you can love, you need the help of others. Mentors can make a huge difference through introductions, advice, and references. Our guest expert this week is Marci Alboher. She and I talk later in the show about how to find mentors and why you should be one yourself.

Job hunting is a skill. People who master it get better jobs and better careers. Leila has found a new online resource you can use to improve your next job search. It’s a 12-part online course on the basics of job hunting. And it includes classes on resumes, cover letters, and other fundamentals. Leila tells us more in a moment.

You’ve applied for a job and you discover that you and the hiring manager know one or more people in common. Should you mention these connections in your application or the interview? How can you do this in a professional way? That’s our question of the week. It comes from listener Madeline Johnson in Eugene, Oregon. Jessica offers her advice shortly.

As always, let’s first check in with the Mac’s List team.

Every week, our co-host, Leila O’Hara is out there searching the nooks and crannies of the Internet. She’s looking  for websites, books, and tools you can use in your job search and your career. Leila, what have you found for us this week?

Leila O’Hara:

This week I discovered a new resource that I think is really valuable for all types of job seekers, whether you’re looking for your first job out of college or you’re making that mid-career change. I think this could really help you out.

Udacity, which is an online educational classroom, they announced this week that they are teaming up with Google to offer 12 courses for free to job seekers worldwide . These 12 courses cover a wide span of topics; everything from refreshing your resume, crafting your new cover letter, strengthening your LinkedIn network and brand. If you’re in the tech field, they also have very specific courses for technical topics. These courses cover Data Science Interview Prep, Data Structures & Algorithms In Swift and Optimize Your GitHub.

In the announcement, Udacity VP of Careers Kathleen Mullaney shared that: “This next generation of talent will enter the job market possessing a diverse range of skills, but facing a lot of competition, and a rapidly-shifting hiring landscape. They’re going to need every resource they can get to make sure they’re able to compete successfully for available roles.”

I thought that statement was really apt and I agree 100% with it. I think this generation of job seekers, myself included, we’re really going to have to adjust to the changing job landscape. There’s way more opportunity than ever to find a job online and there’s so many ways that you can do it but there’s also way more challenges and competition that we face today that generations in the past didn’t face. Your job search is completely unique and there’s many ways that you can go about it but I think having these courses that are tailored specifically to the challenges of this generation and right now, I think that is really valuable.

I know, for example, when I was looking for a job earlier this year, one thing that I personally struggled with was crafting my cover letter. I know how important it was to tell my career story effectively and set myself apart from other applicants. I would spend a lot of time customizing my cover letter for every job application I was submitting and I would get caught up in the wording and the phrasing of it. I felt like I was getting stuck and hitting a dead end with it. I think that having a course as a resource for me to think of a new way to approach the cover letter would have been really valuable to me at the time I was looking for a job.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, or for new folks who have never done it before. Knowing what a cover letter looks like, how to structure it, those kinds of things, I think that would be really helpful. I agree with you that a course is helpful in breaking down the ways to go about something and learn it as a skill and develop that.

Leila O’Hara:

Yeah, I think that that format would work really well for me and I think with other job seekers as well.

Each course comes with a series of interactive quizzes, you can get advice from industry pros, and you also have the community of fellow students there to support you. I think that’s one thing that’s really nice, to have other people that are in the same boat as you are. That way you can bounce ideas off of them and get feedback from them. That way you feel more supported and a lot less frustrated about the whole process because you know everybody else is going through the same thing.

Having that level of support whether you’re looking for support crafting your cover letter, or tweaking your resume, or expanding your network, I think that will be really valuable if you look into these courses from Udacity and Google. I encourage everybody out there, don’t get stuck and frustrated, just seek out other people who are in the same boat as you, and seek out resources, courses, and advice for the challenges that you’re facing. That will really give you an advantage and a leg up when you’re applying for jobs.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I really like this resource and I think it’s really helpful both in the way that you’re presenting it as support for resumes and cover letters and things like that, but I do also really like that it has opportunities for people to develop tech skills or refresher courses for folks who already possess some skills but might need an additional refresher. To make sure that they are staying current and staying relevant on what’s happening in that industry.

I think that that is really valuable too, that you don’t have to find a completely specified online Master’s program or something like that, that there’s a one-stop-shop kind of a place where you can go for courses in general. That’s really helpful.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it’s a great suggestion. Obviously, at Mac’s List, we offer some online courses as well, but I like the general point you’re making here, Leila, that it’s important to get the training and the knowledge to get good at job hunting. We all learn in different ways; some people enjoy listening to podcasts like this, some people enjoy taking courses, or looking at books, or going to events. Whatever you’re best at, find it and do it.

I also like the fact that I know a lot of job seekers’ budgets matter when they’re out of work so the fact that this is free makes it even more attractive. Great tip.

Leila O’Hara:

Thanks.

Mac Prichard:

Good. Thank you, Leila. If you’ve got a suggestion for Leila, please write her. We would love to share your idea on the show. Her address is leila@macslist.org.

Now, let’s turn to you, our listeners. Jessica Black is here to answer one of your questions. Jessica, what did you find in the Mac’s List mailbag this week?

Jessica Black:

We have a question from Madeline Johnson, from Eugene, Oregon. She says,

“I know that who you know matters more than what you know, but name dropping always feels weird to me, especially in an interview. Any thoughts?”

I do have thoughts, Madeline, of course. I think this is a really great question because it does matter who you know. I’m not sure if it matters more than what you know but it does really, really help. I think this is a good question to figure out how to navigate when to say someone’s name, when to use that, and how to make sure that it doesn’t feel weird to you.

It shouldn’t be weird. I think that where it does feel awkward and uncomfortable is when it’s just name dropping and using it as a way to get something out of the conversation rather than having it be an authentic interaction or use of the name. I would just recommend, if it does feel inauthentic, I would recommend to not use it. The relationship has to be strong for you to be able to use that name and not just have it feel like, “Oh this person that I met once”, or “This person that I am connected to on LinkedIn but doesn’t know that I am using their name.” Those types of scenarios, obviously you wouldn’t provide all of that extra information but that’s the feeling that I’m gathering, would be the relationship where it can feel really uncomfortable and inauthentic.

A good way to start this relationship is in the cover letter. That way it’s not a forced name drop but it is providing a context for starting that conversation. You can use something at the beginning of the cover letter, saying, “So-and-so referred me to this position”. Then you’ve used that name, the hiring manager will recognize the name of course, because you have a shared connection, then you can talk about it more in detail about how you know that person in the interview. Share stories about how you’ve worked together and why that relationship is strong, why this person recommended you for this position because you’re a good fit.

I would also recommend telling a story to give that context. Like I said, not just an arbitrary using of the name but really telling that story and creating that narrative of how you know this person. I think that going back to keeping it authentic and if you feel uncomfortable about using it, don’t do it but if you have a strong enough relationship that there is a name that you can use, weave it into your conversation rather than just blurting it out as soon as you meet the person you’re interviewing with. Saying, “Sally McNeal”, or whatever and just dropping the name.

What do you guys think?

Leila O’Hara:

Yeah, I agree with everything you were saying there in terms of advice for this listener because I think that one thing about mentioning who you know in the interview is that it really does set you apart from the competition. Because if you know somebody that’s the decision maker at the organization or that’s really trusted by the people who are making the hiring decision, then that can go a really long way to making sure you get hired.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, recommendations go a long way because there’s a trust involved with that. Yes, I think that’s a really good point.

Mac Prichard:

I like your point about thinking about the strength of the relationship, Jessica, because obviously when you mention somebody’s name, it’s going to have more of an effect if that person knows you well. I think a good rule of thumb to follow, too, is think about social situations. Say you meet someone for the first time and you have a friend in common or maybe a former colleague. How would you bring that name up? You might say, “You work at so-and-so. I think we both know this person.” That feels very natural, I don’t think that’s awkward. I think it’s the same with mentioning a name in a job search.

The other thing to consider here…She didn’t bring this up but it’s okay to go to the person you know in common and talk to them about the people that they know at the employer and find out more about that relationship. It’s also very appropriate to ask that person if they would contact the other person inside the company on your behalf.

Jessica Black:

Yeah that’s a good point. I’m glad that you brought that up because that is a really good way, if you feel uncomfortable with using the name, have that conversation with your connection so they can be made aware to the hiring manager. I think that’s really important.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and finally, think about the result you hope mentioning that name might produce. I think it falls into two buckets; one is you want the manager to think, “Oh, you’ve worked with so-and-so, that’s a reputable, well-known person, you must really be on your game.” The other thing that you hope that they’ll do is that is that they’ll pick up the phone or send an email to that person saying, “Hey, what’s the story behind this applicant? Tell me about them.”

Jessica Black:

That’s right.

Mac Prichard:

That’s gold if you can get them to do that.

Jessica Black:

That’s right, and again, that reiterates why the relationship needs to be strong. Knowing that if the hiring manager does contact that person, if you’ve used their name, that that person needs to know that you’re using their name so they can be prepared with a story to give to that hiring manager.

Mac Prichard:

Excellent point. Good. Thank you, Jessica, and thank you, Leila. Thank you, Madeline, for the question. If you’ve got a question for Jessica, send her an email. Her address is jessica@macslist.org. You can also call our listener line, that number is area-code  716-JOB-TALK,  or post your question on the Mac’s List Facebook group!

However you do it, if we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of Land Your Dream Job Anywhere

We’ll be back in a moment. When we return, I’ll talk with this week’s guest expert, Marci Alboher, about mentors: How to find one, how to be one.

If you’re listening to this show right now, there are two things I know about you: First, you’re a fan of podcasts. Second, you’re looking for tools and tips that can help you get a great job and get ahead in your career.

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And now, let’s get back to this podcast!

Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Marci Alboher.

Marci Alboher is a vice president at Encore.org. It’s an innovative hub tapping the skills of 50+ population.

She’s a former blogger and columnist for The New York Times and her latest book is The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life. Marci serves on the board of directors of Girls Write Now and she’s a mentor editor for The OpEd Project.

She lives in New York City, with her husband Jay and their French bulldog, Sinatra.

Marci joins us today from New York.

Marci, thanks for being on the show.

Marci Alboher:

It’s my pleasure, Mac.

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s an honor to have you. Our topic is mentors: how to find one, how to be one. Let’s start, Marci, with how people think about mentors and to be fully candid, I’m a Sci-Fi nerd so I think of Yoda as one of the first mentors that come to mind. But I think there is something to that, people often, whether they like Sci-Fi or not, think of mentors as all-wise figures who appear at pivotal moments, but they can come in all forms, can’t they?

Marci Alboher:

They sure can and I think the biggest misconception about mentors is that there’s one all-knowing mentor. I think that if we’re really being honest, life is filled with opportunities to have different kinds of mentors and be a different kind of mentor to different people. I think that there are mentors for every season of your life and I think all of us have the opportunity to be mentors to all kinds of people along the way.

To me there is this matrix. I’m mixing movie metaphors but there is there is a matrix of mentors out there.

Mac Prichard:

That’s okay. I’m sure we’ll get Lord of the Rings in here and it’ll be right.

Marci Alboher:

Exactly.

Mac Prichard:

Just moving from one franchise to another but why do mentors matter, Marci?

Marci Alboher:

Yeah, everything is easier when you have some insights from someone who’s travelled the path before you and I think we all think we have to figure it out on our own but there’s no reason to always figure it out on your own. When you need a mentor, it seems like you’re asking a lot of people but the truth is that we all gain so much from being mentors that there’s this wonderful give-and-take in those relationships. I think it’s a really valuable life and career skill to think of all the ways you can be a mentor and find mentors.

To me, it’s a beautiful, giving-circle way about life.

Mac Prichard:

Well, I want to talk about the different forms of mentorship and what they could look like but let’s just step back and touch on a point you mentioned a moment ago, which is, why do people agree to be mentors? Especially people who are influential and have crazy schedules?

Marci Alboher:

Yeah, well because it feels really good to help someone. But another interesting thing is it feels really good to spot talent and nurture that talent. I think one of the biggest reasons people become a mentor is that they see something of themselves in a person that they start mentoring. I almost fell into the trap of saying, “a younger person that you mentor”, but it isn’t always that the mentor is older and the mentee is younger.

When I say you see something of yourself, usually the best mentors, are people that may not be a lot like you, demographically or in other external ways but the best mentorships work, I think, when people find a way to identify and see someone else going down a path that they have previously gone down. Wanting that person to succeed.

Mac Prichard:

Let’s talk about the different forms that mentorship can take because we started by touching on that model that I think a lot of us have, of this all-wise, all-seeing person who you work with for decades. But mentors can just help you with a particular problem or they can be people who help you understand a sector.

Talk about that, Marci. The different kinds of mentorships that you see.

Marci Alboher:

Yeah, a lot of mentors…I think of it as a mentor for a season of your life or your career. I keep saying life or career because I think we need mentors in all corners of our lives, not just at work. There could be a situation you go through, a health crisis; I think becoming a new parent is one of them, these big life events where we all know if you find the right people to talk to, that whole experience becomes easier to adjust to.

I think of those kinds of mentors. You might stay in really close contact with that person while you’re in that experience and while you’re in that season. You might find that they’re not so much in your life down the road. I think that’s okay. I think we have to get comfortable with the fact that we can have mentors for a season.

Early in my career, I wrote a piece on this for the New York Times, a long time ago. My first boss was a wonderful mentor for one major thing in my life, teaching me how to have a job. I feel like I developed so many of my early work habits…I was in a career I didn’t want to stay in, doing the kind of work that I didn’t want to stay in, in a field I didn’t want to be in, yet this man, Shelley, he taught me good work habits. He taught me how to be a professional; he taught me how to organize my to-do lists. Just some various things that I remember, like the way he managed his time. He taught me how to find those moments in a busy, stressful day to go out and take a walk and remember that we live in New York City which is a really exciting place. You don’t have to be holed up in your office and sometimes the best thinking is when you take a walk around the block, not when you’re sitting at your desk feeling stuck. Just little tiny things I remember mostly because I was watching him.

That is one kind of mentor and I worked for him for three years. We stayed in touch over the years but the mentorship kind of ended after that.

Mac Prichard:

As you talk, I can recall people who have helped me in my own career with problems that are situational, like how do you get a job in state government? What should you do when you’re applying to graduate school? If you want to launch a website or a podcast. There are all these people that I turned to for specific advice about those problems and challenges and they were very helpful to me. Some of them I’ve stayed in touch with but as you say, often we move on because we have new challenges or new opportunities.

Marci Alboher:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about how you get a mentor. When you’re thinking about this, who should you turn to for help? What’s your best advice there, Marci?

Marci Alboher:

There are so many ways to get a mentor. There are formal mentoring programs, and at our work at Encore, we have a campaign called Generation to Generation, and that campaign is specifically about mobilizing the 50+ population to get involved in the lives of young people. We work with many organizations that do formal mentoring programs. Mentor, the national mentoring organization, is a great resource for people who want to become mentors specifically to young people.

We have other relationships and if mentoring is appealing to you, and you are looking to make yourself available, our website has many ideas for that. I noticed that LinkedIn has a new feature where you can tag in your profile that you want to provide career advice about your area of knowledge. I think that’s a wonderful way of inviting strangers to approach you about something that you’re knowledgeable about.

Those are formal pathways but I think that a lot of informal mentor relationships that have happened in my life have been really much more about chemistry. I have this example, I volunteered once with this youth organization here in New York City and I spent a day and an afternoon volunteering. I met a young guy who wanted to become a writer, and we were both interested in this volunteer opportunity. A couple weeks later, I was teaching a writing class and he signed up for my writing class, and then I just naturally became his mentor. I helped him get his first publications and he helped me promote my first book. We became friends after that and the mentorship ended when he went on another path and sometime around the time that he had moved out of the city, a good friend of his wrote to me and said, “I really love the relationship you built with — ,” this guy’s name, “Can I take you out to breakfast, I’d love to get to know you better?”

She basically…This woman, Lisa, who is now a dear, close friend in my life, she basically invited me to be a mentor to her. She took me out to breakfast, she followed all the rules in an article that I sent you about how to approach someone to become a mentor. She got to know me, she admired my work, she told me that we had similar interests in women and work, and diversity issues, and a bunch of issues that she was interested in. We found regular ways to get together, and I invited her to events that I was going to. The interesting part about that relationship is that over the years we became friends and I don’t consider myself her mentor any longer. She is fifteen years younger than me but I learn so much from her. I come to her now with work and career-related questions. We feel like peers.

These relationships change over time.

Mac Prichard:

When you’re approaching someone, what kind of preparation do you recommend doing to be…In the story you told about the person you mentored who had the friend who took you out to breakfast, you mentioned she did some homework, she looked at your work. Are there general guidelines that you recommend people follow before they approach someone they hope will become a mentor?

Marci Alboher:

Yeah, I think it’s a delicate balance of doing your homework without becoming a stalker. I think that if the person you’re approaching has a public profile of any kind, if they’re active on social media, if they’re active on LinkedIn or Twitter, basically check out what they’ve been posting. If they’ve written books or articles, make sure to read them. Be familiar with what is publicly available about that person, that they would assume you know. Do not do research to go further than that. If you know too much, you might start freaking somebody out.

Mac Prichard:

I worked in human rights advocacy in my twenties and thirties, and I never met him but I got to know of Elliot Abrams, who worked in the Reagan administration. There’s a biography about him that always struck me as a little obsessive but when he was in college, he took a job with  Daniel Patrick Moynihan who was a US senator. He was Moynihan’s family’s nanny. He prepared for that position by reading every academic article Moynihan had ever written, who was a prolific author so that’s a little odd. Some people, I think, do carry it to extremes.

Marci Alboher:

But that is publicly available information so actually, I think that for that kind of wonky job, that is appropriate homework actually and it was probably really competitive to get that job. That to me, does not sound inappropriate. I think it really depends on the context and in that context, it’s probably not over the top.

Mac Prichard:

He got the job and he went on to bigger and better things.

Now, let’s talk about that relationship with a mentor. How candid should you be both at the beginning of the relationship and as it grows?

Marci Alboher:

I think that it’s all about trust and appropriateness. If you feel a really close connection early on, and that feeling is obviously reciprocated, you will know as in any smart relationship, how far you can go. But I think it’s probably wise to follow the lead of the mentor in terms of the balance of personal and professional, for example. Or how much you want to reveal about any given situation, or even how much time you want to suggest that you spend together. I think it’s really good to follow the lead of the mentor, especially if the mentor is a really busy person. Always offer to meet in a way that’s convenient for your mentor, that’s respectful of the mentor’s schedule.

Never suggest an in-person meeting if the other person is only suggesting you talk by phone, for example. Try to follow that lead and understand that every mentor relationship might have different logistics around it. How do you get together? How do you communicate? How often do you communicate?

Mac Prichard:

Let’s talk about favors because I think that many people seek out these relationships in the hope that the mentor can open doors, make phone calls, make introductions. How do you ask for favors in a relationship like this and when is it appropriate to send thank you notes and gifts?

Marci Alboher:

Good questions. Again, I think favors are a really interesting game because if you are really good at what you do and contributing something valuable, often, if you ask someone to do a favor on your behalf, you might make them look really good. Whenever someone is recommending you for a job, for example, they’re helping someone fill a role, so you might actually be helping your mentor by making the mentor look good to the person that they refer you to.

I do think it’s important to understand that when you ask for a favor, it’s your job to make your mentor look really, really good to that person by referring you. Favors are… Most people will not make introductions they feel uncomfortable making. I think it’s appropriate to always say, “I would love to meet so-and-so. Would you feel comfortable making an introduction?” If you know that you want something specific and you can think of a respectful way to ask it, that’s entirely appropriate of a mentee to do of a mentor.

The advice that I’d give is to make it easy for your mentor to help you. You might say, “I prepared an email that you can forward along. Modify it as you’d like then forward it along to make the introduction.” Make sure, for example, if you’re responding to a job posting, if your mentor knows someone at the organization, make sure that you have followed the instructions perfectly in the application, including everything they want. You’ve written a stunning cover letter and someone else has checked it and it doesn’t have a typo. The key is that you want to make sure that your mentor looks good when they do you a favor. I think most mentors will give you some hints about what feels comfortable.

Mac Prichard:

I like your emphasis on being direct and being clear about what you want. Also, your advice about making it easy for the mentor to say yes by preparing emails, or materials, or the like.

I want to turn the conversation to why people should become mentors themselves. Two quick questions, Marci. What does it take to be a successful mentor? What do you say to listeners who say, “I don’t have anything to offer? What could I do for other people? I’m just starting out in my career. I’m nobody important.”

Marci Alboher:

Well, I think the most important quality in a mentor is being available and listening. We talk so much about having all these professional skills, or having certain status, or even having a stellar network. The truth is, none of those things matter as much as being available, and being supportive, and being a listener.

I just read a phenomenal new book that has a really strong mentoring theme. It’s called The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer. The whole book is about intergenerational mentoring. There’s a scene in this book where the older mentor talks about what younger people are looking for. It’s someone who believes in them and someone who sees something in them who then gives them faith to go forward and try to do something.

All of us have the ability to be that for someone else. The bar can be pretty low but it’s something that has to do with heart more than it has to do with hard skills.

Mac Prichard:

I have found, and I’m sure you have too, that people hunger for connection and when you make time for others, they’re not only grateful, but great things follow. Great advice.

Now tell us, Marci, what’s next for you?

Marci Alboher:

What’s next for me? Good question. Well, I am very deep into this Encore work. I turned fifty-two last year and I feel like I aged into the Encore stage of life. I’ve been doing this work for nearly a decade, and I now feel like I’m firmly living in this life stage myself. I just think this mission is more and more important. How can we figure out how to make the best use of this huge well of talent we have in our “getting older” population.

I just hope the ideas that we talk about in what we call the Encore Movement become more commonplace. We’re working on a new initiative at Encore right now. A diversity initiative to bring new and undiscovered voices into the conversation about aging, and purpose in the second half of life, and some of the challenges for people finding that purpose. I’m really excited about that work.

As you know, I’m really excited about this generation to generation campaign. We have a new prize, an innovation prize, the Encore prize. We’re awarding $100K to people who are innovating new models to bring the talent of older people to younger people. If these ideas appeal to people, I would love for them to sign up for our mailing list on the Encore.org website and get involved.

Mac Prichard:

I know people can not only learn more about you at Encore.org, but can follow you on Twitter. Your twitter handle is heymarci.

Marci, thanks for being on the show today.

Marci Alboher:

My pleasure.

Mac Prichard:

It’s been an honor. Take care.

Marci Alboher:

Okay, you too.

Mac Prichard:

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio with Jessica and Leila.  What are some of your takeaways from my conversation with Marci?

Jessica Black:

That was great. She had such great content about mentors in general. I was thinking that we haven’t done many podcasts about mentoring. I think that’s such an important aspect of the job search and career development but also I liked her note about it being important for life in general. It can be valuable and we just need people who can act as guides in all aspects of life.

I also really liked her statements about how you don’t have to have one mentor for forever. I think that’s a common misconception, that you have to choose a mentor who’s going to be from the very beginning until you’re retired. Number one, that’s really a lot of pressure, and number two, that’s not true and it won’t be. People change and evolve and your goals change, and sometimes your city changes. Things like that, it’s just not feasible to have that. Sometimes it happens but it’s not necessary for a successful mentorship. I thought that was really important that she noted.

I also really liked the two of you, your conversation about the favors side of things of the relationship. That was interesting for me because I see mentors as being more of a guide and having it be more of a relationship that’s reciprocal and maybe not so much a, “Hey will you do this thing for me to advance my career?” Getting the guidance and advice and just being a sounding board of, “Here are my goals how can I achieve these?”, and having regular check-in’s with someone that maybe you don’t have at the office.

Mac Prichard:

More of an advisor than an advocate.

Jessica Black:

Yeah and I think the advocacy is really important but in the sense that it’s…Maybe favors was just triggering for me a little bit. The word was not right for me.

Mac Prichard:

I do find people hope that if they meet someone who has an influential position, they think, “If I could only get in front of her, she could make a phone call and all of my problems will be solved.”

Jessica Black:

Right, which I thought was really good that you brought that up in such a way because for me, that’s not what I think about but I don’t doubt that that is an aspect for things.

Mac Prichard:

I think that people have that expectation, that’s why I raised the point.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I thought that that was a great part of the conversation, just to show what the full spectrum of a mentor can be.

One more thing, and I could probably talk about this all the time, but I also liked her focus on anyone can be a mentor. That it’s not this thing you have to age into or get to a certain level before you can be. There’s not a check box for, now you’re qualified. I like that she reiterated that it just takes heart. We all have experience, and Leila, you mentioned this earlier in your resource, about when you were going through the job search on your own, and you are talking to a large audience of people but if you were talking one-on-one with someone about your experience in the job search, that’s a way of mentoring someone. It’s just sharing your own experiences and being able to help them so they don’t go through the same struggles and that they have someone to lean on.

Those types of  things and I thought that was really valuable.

Mac Prichard:

It’s good that you brought that up because we all have something to offer. We are all an expert in many things. Whatever our age and wherever we are in our careers.

Jessica Black:

Absolutely. We have a lot to offer and we all have life experience that can be valuable for other people and yeah. What did you think Leila?

Leila O’Hara:

Yeah, I agreed with you. I noticed this other point she made, which is that somebody else has been there before, somebody else has experienced that same challenge that you’re facing. You don’t have to go it alone or feel like, “Man, I’m the only person who’s ever had to deal with this.” There’s somebody else out there who’s dealt with it, and who has gotten past it, and is a better person for it. Seeking out those people who can be your guide and your sounding board, I think that’s really valuable.

I think it’s really important, too, like she mentioned, that there’s a lot of different ways you can ask for mentors too. There’s not just one way to do it or just follow this exact guide on how to be a mentor. There are a lot of different ways you can do it or be a mentor.

Jessica Black:

Yes. I’m glad you brought that up because I do think that that is really important point and I didn’t want it to get lost, so thank you for saying that. It’s good.

Leila O’Hara:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Agreed. When I think about mentorship, we’re always talking about informational interviews on the podcast, and that is a form of mentorship because you’re seeking someone out because he or she has a certain insight, or experience, or understanding that can be valuable to you to help you solve a problem, in this case find a job or make a career change. That’s what good mentors do and that’s why I think everybody can be a mentor as well because again, we’ve all had experiences and we have insights that can be just as valuable to others.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, absolutely. I think that informational interviews, going off of that same idea, that informational interviews can be a really good way of finding the right fit for a longer-term mentor.

Mac Prichard:

Good point.

Jessica Black:

I agree with you, that one off informational interviews can be a form of mentoring but you could suss out who could be… Where you have that instant connection or you start having the conversation and start realizing how much your paths are similar. It becomes a natural mentorship opportunity. I think that’s a good point.

Mac Prichard:

Alright. Great, well thank you both, Jessica and Leila, and thank you, Marci, for joining us this week as our guest, and thank you, our listeners, for downloading today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.

If you’re looking for more career-focused podcasts like this ours, be sure to check out the 2018 edition of our Top Careers Podcast Guide. You’ll discover 78 other shows that can help you get hired.

Get your free copy of our Top Careers Podcast Guide today. Go to topcareerpodcasts.com.

Join us next Wednesday when our special guest will be Lisa Zigarmi. She’ll explain how to follow your calling in your career.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job!

Mentors can make an incredible difference in your career. A mentor can make introductions, give you advice, and provide you with a trusted reference. Discover how to find a great mentor and how to be one yourself. On this episode of Find Your Dream Job, we’re joined by career expert Marci Alboher, vice president of Encore.org.

About Our Guest: Marci Alboher

Marci Alboher, vice president at Encore.org, is one of the nation’s leading authorities on career issues and workplace trends. A former blogger and columnist for The New York Times, her latest book is “The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life.”Marci serves on the board of directors of Girls Write Now and as a mentor editor for The OpEd Project. Marci lives in NYC, with her husband Jay and their French bulldog Sinatra.

Resources in this Episode: