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.
“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.
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: