What I Look For In A Mentor

When I say I want a mentor – what exactly am I looking for?

Someone who has been where I want to go and has the benefit of experience and hindsight.

When I’m considering a career (or career change) my mentor will be someone who can tell me what it means to have that job.

  • What does a typical day look like?
  • Who do you lead and to whom do you answer?

Someone to keep me on track and help develop my career trajectory.

  • focus on developing these skills
  • ignore that distraction
  • keep your eyes and ears open for this
  • beware of that

Someone to be my advocate, making introductions and opening doors.

  • these are the people you should meet
  • here are the places you should go
  • these are the groups you should join
  • here are the opportunities that I recognise from experience

When I’m ‘in the weeds’, somebody who’s been there before and can put her hand on my shoulder and say “I know what this is like.”

I take solace in the knowledge that she has been through the same (sometimes excruciating) process of growth and change, coming out stronger on the other side.

Someone I can trust to say it like it is.

To tell me the truth in a way that builds me up rather than tearing me down. (The tearing down I can do for myself.)

As our relationship develops I’ll notice my mentor’s imperfections, reminding me that we all have them. Not only is perfection not a requirement for success, it’s often an impediment.

Someone who models the way I can use my own experience to support others.

Just as I learn from the values and behaviours of my mentor, I model a way forward for those who are exploring a similar path. I lead, even as I’m being led.


Stacy Cassio knows the power a great mentor can have on the development of those around her. Her research on mentorship suggests that many people who don’t think of themselves as mentors actually have incredibly developed knowledge that they can share. She established the Pink Mentor Network to explore new ways women can connect and learn from each other’s experience. Find out more here.

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