Why you need a mentor, and how to find one to advance your career

Successful people often give credit to mentors. But where do you get one of these magical career docents? And once you find one, how do you make the most of the relationship? Better yet – how do you become a mentor in a way that helps both parties?

Patrice D’Eramo is vice president of Cisco, and member of the leadership council of Million Women Mentors (MWM), a nonprofit initiative aimed at increasing the number of high school girls pursuing undergraduate STEM degrees, and improving workplace retention of women through mentoring programs.

Patrice D’Eramo on mentoring“We’re not born with a book on how we are going to be successful in life. A lot of it is by learning, by observing, by reading,” says D’Eramo. “Mentors have been critical in my success. I’ve looked at mentors in a couple different areas — whether it’s been the types of jobs they have had, the types of leaders they are, and working moms — those have been the general categories I looked at throughout my career. What I’ve done is attach myself to those particular folks depending on where I was in my career.”

Other ways women can find mentors:

  • Mentors don’t have to be mirrors. Great advice doesn’t just come from senior leaders in your industry, or people who are of the same gender or racial background.
  • Give as much as you take. Let your mentor know you took their advice, the outcome, and when you pay their generosity forward.
  • Expect to do the work. Be willing to invest the time to study, shadow, or meet with your mentor. You should expect to do much of the work because it’s your career.




Explore the 10 special Working Moms Mean Business podcast episodes here.

working mom guilt

Read or download the free (mega) book written by me: Free from Guilt: Why Moms Have it, and How to Conquer It, which is all about why so many of us struggle with being working moms, even though most of us need to work to live, and science says kids, families, marriage, society and moms thrive when we work. 



Other episodes in the series:

Moms are suddenly dropping out of the workforce. Why?

Dealing with the staggering costs of child care

Rachel Cruze: #blessed vs BLESSED

How moms can be killer at business and MOMMING 

Are breadwinner moms good for families?

Can moms close the gender gap in STEM fields?

Samantha Ettus: Stop feeling guilty, work is good for you

Fact: Working moms are good for kids — Stop the guilt! 



About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

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