<blockquote>Today’s post is brought to you by freelance writer Catherine Apitz. After a career in the office, Catherine is going public with her writing talents as a freelancer.  She currently works as a staff writer for “<a href=”http://www.circlesofseven.org/”>Circles of Seven</a>”, an intercultural online magazine. She holds a BA in English. Catherine counts Robert Hoffman, her 8th grade English teacher, as the mentor who recognized and inspired her writing creativity. She writes here about mentoring, and 8 steps to finding a career mentor. Enjoy!

-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder</blockquote>
In any culture anywhere in the world, mentors are special people playing important and influential roles that inspire and improve the careers of other people.  An excellent mentor frequently makes a lasting impression that is treasured and remembered for a life time.  Famous TV talk show facilitator, Oprah Winfrey remembers her third and fifth grade teachers for their influence on her education. Decades later, she has opened her own leadership academy for girls in a disadvantaged area of South Africa.

Anyone qualified can serve as mentor such as a parent, relative or neighbor. He or she can be a friend, a co-worker or a stranger interested in mentoring. One can have an older, experienced mentor or a peer, newly experienced in a career such as a college graduate mentoring an undergraduate student. People can recruit mentors from a qualified mentorship program in one’s local high school, college or work place.  Students, interns, and first time employees can select a long term mentor or a series of short term people that mentor one after the other. In sum, mentors come in a wide variety of choices, each with the ability to meet a majority of people’s needs.

People most in need of mentors are generally college students who lack career direction following enrollment or graduation.  Others in need of mentorship can be struggling high school students who need motivation and encouragement to stay in school instead of dropping out when they turn 16.  Elementary students who struggle from severe distractions in their home life may benefit from a mentor to help them stay on track with their studies.  An inexperienced intern may also be spared his or her job by benefiting from a skilled, experienced mentor qualified to help in the work place.

Mentors volunteer their time for free, but those who specifically tutor or teach subject matter will be paid for their services. Suppose one is a struggling, inexperienced employee, an intern or an unfocused college student who lack the benefit of a mentorship program in their local college or work place. Below is a list of guidelines for finding a mentor to launch one’s career and help a worthy person build today for a better future:
<li>Find a mentor who will exercise good judgement, is easy to communicate with, one whom confidences are kept and who is a good listener.  People seeking a mentor ought to feel free to discuss concerns and issues that turn up in a career or work place.</li>
<li>Select a mentor who is upbeat and positive in his or her attitude, who will be encouraging with a good sense of humor and has the ability to discuss a wide variety of issues.</li>
<li>An excellent mentor is a person, intern or employee who admires and respects the seeker and whom the seeker can provide respect for in return, someone who can provide a long term commitment and deep investment in an employee, intern or student’s future.  (Note: The only exception would be a short term series of mentors who can remain committed and deeply invested in the seeker’s future for the duration of their short terms.)</li>
<li>Find a mentor who can fairly access an employee’s, intern’s or student’s skills for success and help them develop a long range career plan.</li>
<li>Select a mentor who will help establish goals and who can provide the seeker with constructive criticism and honest feedback.  This mentor will encourage one’s goals with a desire to bring about change.</li>
<li>Find a mentor who helps the student, employee or intern develop self-awareness, grow beyond perceived limitations and introduce the student, employee or intern to people of leadership and management qualities who will make a difference in one’s career.</li>
<li>Select a mentor who will motivate the student, intern or employee to join organizations to assist in one’s advancement.</li>
<li>Above all, find a mentor who will fully invest in and celebrate a student’s, intern’s or employee’s success.</li>
Copyright (C) Catherine Apitz, all rights reserved.

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