Egirl Team

AddedMonday, March 11, 2019 at 8:48 AM

Do I need a mentor?

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I was told I should have a mentor to help me into an engineering career. Is it necessary to have a mentor? Did you all have mentors? If so, how did you find them? What should I look for in a mentor?

Related to Internships & Jobs, Opportunities/Challenges for Women, Work Environment
  • Kristin Sweeney , Pennsy Supply Inc., A CRH Comany
    Answered Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at 11:22 AM

    The need for a mentor is a great question. For me, this wasn’t something I actively sought out, meaning I didn’t go up to people and say “will you be my mentor”, rather I when I encountered someone, be it an educator, co-worker, one of my employees, boss, or other leader within my organization that I admired, I actively worked to learn from them and engage in discussions with them. The mentor/mentee relationships developed naturally from there.

    I have various mentors that I now turn to and it’s exciting to have developed relationships with people who I now mentor, but in all of these the evolution to the mentor/mentee relationship was a natural build focused around learning and developing new skills and building on my own or their development.

    In college many of these mentors were my professors, when I got my first internship it was my boss and some of the other managers I worked with. As my career has developed I have lots of people that I turn to for advice and mentorship, depending on the subject matter. I have those I speak with about leadership qualities. Then there are others who coach me through operational challenges, such as process improvements.

    The best advice I have is when you find someone you admire or that you want to emulate, go up to them, introduce yourself (if you haven’t already), and ask some good questions about how they got where they are. Chances are they will take you under their wing and help you grow like they have.

  • Hope Bovenzi , Texas Instruments
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:42 AM

    Everyone's journey is different and sometimes it’s challenging to find an engineering mentor before you start a career in engineering. With that said, I highly recommend you do find one as soon as you can and definitely once you enter the workforce. Mentors help provide insight to where we might have "blind spots" about ourselves. They will also provide guidance as you're learning to navigate your new career path. But even if you've been in engineering awhile, they will be able to give you feedback or help you work through tough situations.

    Finding a mentor isn't always easy and sometimes you won't realize you value someone as mentor until much later. Sometimes having a mentor just looks like a professional friendship. But don't be afraid to be straightforward and ask "Can you be a mentor for me?" Oftentimes people will feel very honored and, if they have time, they'll usually say yes.

    Some companies or schools will match you with a mentor, which is a great opportunity to take advantage of, but sometimes the "chemistry" isn't always there with the mentor/mentee relationship. It's important to feel comfortable with your mentor because they should feel open to challenging you and encouraging you to be your best. Ask your friends, professors, or other professionals if they can connect you someone, because having a mentor will really help you develop as an engineer!

  • Alicia Bailey , Sain Associates
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:41 AM

    While it’s certainly beneficial to have mentor, it’s not required to excel in your engineering career. I have had several mentors. They have been natural relationships through work, rather than ones I specially sought out to be my mentor. The mentors that I enjoyed and excelled with are the ones that were more fluid with my personality. Ones that coached, listened, and helped guide me, rather than ones that spoon fed me every step.

  • Heather Hunt , University of Missouri
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:40 AM

    It's not a requirement, but it can help in some situations. Mentors do not have to be formal mentors; you will find many informal mentors on your path as you naturally reach out to those you respect with questions. Like in any profession, having a good support network – family, friends in classes who are going through similar efforts as you, teachers and professors whom you respect and who respect you in turn – helps us knock down barriers and overcome obstacles to success.

    I think many students naturally turn to their professors once they are in college for career advice; you'll also find more senior students through your professional societies at college who are willing to give advice and listen when you need a sounding board. I would just suggest looking around you and finding people who have different experiences than you, and asking good questions about their experiences and how they handled them. You'll find some friends that way, but you'll also gain a broadened world-view and possibly some good advice. You won't find one person who will be The Mentor, but many people who can all help you build the map of your career path as you travel it.

  • Margo Seltzer , Harvard University
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:39 AM

    A mentor is great, but it’s a relationship that grows organically. You don’t end up with a good mentor by looking for one or asking someone to be your mentor. Instead, take every opportunity to meet and talk with people who are in the kinds of jobs or career to which you aspire. Go to your professors’ offices hours. Talk with them. Get to know them. Do this with other people. Eventually, you’ll find one or two with whom you click; around whom you feel comfortable. Then you can ask more open-ended questions, “How did you end up doing what you do?” The “right” relationships will grow and you’ll suddenly realize that you have a mentor.

  • Kara Kockelman , University of Texas at Austin
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:38 AM

    I never had a formal mentor in engineering, until I became a professor of engineering and a wonderful colleague stepped in to actively watch out for me. But I did have two older brothers who had done engineering in college, and I think some undergraduate professors may keep an eye on your progress, to suggest fellowships or other opportunities for you. Of course, any supervisors you have in an engineering job or internship will also serve as mentors, for that period of time. And throughout your life it is very important to ask questions, of whomever you like, whenever you have a question (about where you might apply for good summer jobs, what transportation engineering is all about, or what fellowships exist to support your studies, for example). Please don’t be shy! Everyone can mentor you to some extent, by answering questions you ask them. No need for a long-term, focused mentor unless you are worried about your direction and feel that you may benefit a great deal from a more focused or formal mentorship.

    Whatever you do, please do not hesitate to ask any of us engineers questions! It’s easy for anyone to answer those, or point you to someone who can.

  • Kate Fay , Verizon Wireless
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:37 AM

    Mentors are not required but they can be very helpful. Mentors can help guide you in important career decisions, issues you encounter at work, and other questions you may have. You can also have multiple mentors and always gain new mentors as you move through your career. For example, you may find an upperclassman in college who helps you choose classes and apply to internships. Once you graduate and get a job, your mentor may be in a different company than you, which can help if your companies interact, or you may lose touch. As you start working you will gain new mentors in your company who can recommend new positions or help navigate the organizational chart.

    I think the best way to find a mentor is the informal way. This can be done by finding someone you know who is in the field you are interested in. This person can be a friend/family member, a teacher, or a colleague once you start working. Since you meet naturally, these are normally stronger mentors. I would look for someone you admire and have common interests in. It also helps if you can offer something to the mentor to strengthen the relationship. For example, if you ask a leader in a different part of the company to mentor you, you can bring information about a project you are working on the impacts their org. That way it becomes more of a two-way conversation.

    The second is finding formal mentoring programs (e.g., https://www.builtbygirls.com/, formal programs through your college/work, national societies). These are programs where you are matched with a mentor for a certain period of time. This allows you to be connected with a wider range of mentors who can help you with different skills. Some of the programs have virtual mentors (where you meet online) or in-person mentors where you can meet in person. These mentorships take a little more work to start the relationship. I strongly suggest signing up for the #BuiltByGirls. They match you with three different mentors allowing you to get a better understanding of the field you are interested in. Each mini-mentorship is 3 months with a meeting every month. You can always continue to stay in contact with the mentors after the mini mentorship finishes.

  • Erin Gately , EPEAT Conformity Assurance Manager
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:36 AM

    I don’t think it is necessary to have a mentor but I think a good mentor can be really helpful. I have had a variety of wonderful mentors over the years and in most cases they appeared when I needed them. Only in one case did I seek one out. She was a high-level manager in my company and my boss knew her and was able to introduce me and encourage a mentor relationship. I have had female mentors and male mentors. Each person had a different thing to teach me. What you should look for in a mentor is someone who is encouraging and knowledgeable and who wants you to succeed. It helps to be mentored by someone a little older and/or a little higher level within the company but that isn’t required. Also, you can find mentors outside your company as well. A good mentor is someone who can help guide you as you move through your career. They can be a resource when you have questions. They can help you navigate the political landscape in your company. They can advise you of pitfalls or opportunities.

  • Jamie Krakover , The Boeing Company
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:35 AM

    If you are going to have a mentor, you first need a goal in mind that you need help with. I think it's important to have a mentor for a specific purpose, like helping you decide on a career path or major, helping you with an area you are struggling in, helping you learn additional technical skills, etc. For that reason, I don't think it's necessary to always have a mentor as you might not always have something you're actively working toward. You want to avoid having a mentor just to say you have one because it's not a good use of everyone's time if there's nothing to work on.

    I've personally had mentors in the past, but it's always been when I had a specific goal in mind that I was trying to achieve, like working toward a new job or position, trying to learn new technical skills, getting advice on a variety of topics, etc. Those mentors have both been formal and informal. Some I set up very specific plans with on how I was going to achieve my goals (formal mentor) and others I just met with on a regular basis to discuss emergent needs and questions (informal).

    I found my mentors through a variety of different ways, some were through formal mentoring programs and others were folks I worked with that had skills that could help me. With each goal I set, I sought out mentors that had the necessary skills that I was looking for help with.

  • Kristen Sanderson , GE Energy Management
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:33 AM

    As we shift from schooling to career, we no longer have teachers and professors…but that doesn’t mean we stop learning. Mentors are people we select throughout our careers to learn the skills and techniques, and sometimes to push us to do things we otherwise would not think about that continue our knowledge and growth throughout our careers.

    A mentor is defined as a trusted counselor or guide, not in your direct management chain, who can tutor or coach. Everyone has mentors throughout their careers. The real question is whether you formalize that or not. You should always be looking around for the people who exhibit the style, skills, or demeanor you wish to become. Gaining a mentor means that you watch them and ask them questions to learn from them. Formalizing that mentoring means that you ask them to talk to you regularly and give you feedback, if applicable. Either way works and you need to decide through experimentation what works best for you. You also have the opportunity to ask your manager for feedback on how you can improve and with that, ask for who can mentor you in those improvements. Remember that mentoring may be technical or soft skills.

    Also I encourage you to think about your career in stages. When you get started in your career, you come in as an engineer. You should spend the first part of your career establishing yourself technically as an expert recognizing that this will take time to develop. In this stage of your career, mentors may be more technical in nature or someone who can help you learn how to approach and solve problems in your particular discipline. As you grow in your career, you will be looking for mentors who can help you with leadership and communication (and maybe still technical). These skills will help you grow into a deeper technical role or into leadership.

    Another interesting thing happening today is the concept of reverse mentoring. As a new engineer in a company, you come in with the latest skills and tech savvy. If you are willing to share your knowledge, it is highly possible that senior leaders and executives will ask you to mentor them so that they can keep up with the latest information. It’s a great opportunity for both of you to learn.

    Throughout my career, I have had several mentors, mostly informal. By building a network of people around me that I both admire and trust, I am able to learn quickly and grow. It’s an important part of building your career.

  • Claudia Galvan , Early Stage Innovation
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:32 AM

    Absolutely, we all need mentors! Throughout our lives, we find experiences that we are unsure of how to approach. For example, if you are planning to go to college you may want to talk to some people about how they went about the application process and if they have any advice. Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where someone is being a bully and we don't know what to do about it, you may want to discuss with someone that can help. Asking for help is a great way to learn from others, you need to be open to feedback and talk to a few people this will provide you with different perspectives and at the end, you can form your own opinion. You can also be a mentor to others, you can provide your point of view or experience and help someone else.

  • Alyse Falconer , Point Energy Innovations
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:30 AM

    Short answer - Yes! Mentors come in all forms, at different points of time throughout your life. Mentors don't always come out and say they're mentors. Often, they're people that want to help you, guide you, shape you, because they either had someone similar to help them or they didn't have someone to help them and know it would have been easier if someone showed them the way. The best advice I got was to ask people to coffee, lunch, breakfast, etc. before and after a meeting or find a time that works for you both. Ask people outside of your field, who can give you feedback, to help shape your viewpoint and opinion. Sometimes, getting outside of your given field or focus, helps to put things into perspective on what's important.

  • Patricia Eng , Self Employed: Speaker and Author
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:29 AM

    Mentors are very helpful! I didn't have any mentors in college, but once I graduated and got into the workplace, I joined a few technical professional societies and the Society of Women Engineers. Through these societies, you get to meet people at all different stages of their careers. If you volunteer in the local sections (but don't take on too much) you will gain valuable logistics and management skills outside the workplace that may come in handy in the workplace. Often you also meet influential people in your area who can give you insight into not only your career field but also paths and opportunities you might otherwise not learn about. If you are really lucky, you might even find a mentor at your workplace.

    The mentors I met through my professional societies were instrumental in helping me identify and explore career opportunities I would not have found or thought about on my own. I also met some great women through SWE who helped me navigate through gender and diversity issues.

  • Aurelia Gooden , The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:28 AM

    It is not necessary to have a mentor. However, it is helpful for networking purposes. Many times, mentors are high ranking engineers in the organization who know about developmental opportunities for young engineers and they can bridge the gap between entry-level engineers and executive-level engineers.

  • Tiera Fletcher (Guinn) , MIT/The Boeing Co
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:27 AM

    Mentors are super helpful and I have numerous mentors that I look up to for various parts of my life. In terms of my career, I have a few mentors who have the type of career that I desire as well as embody my workplace values. They are great to look up to and learn from.

  • Kim Linder , Honeywell FM&T
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:26 AM

    A mentor is someone to ask questions, bounce off ideas, and generally someone you look up to. I have found that I have naturally found this person both during graduate school and in the workplace. It has been someone in which a relationship has formed, I agree with their outlook on work and career, and we just find ourselves discussing work ideas, life questions, and anything that comes up. To find this, I did have to be a bit more outgoing than my naturally introverted self would typically behave. Because you talk to many people in the workplace, I also have had conversations with some people that are in a position to be my mentor, but we don’t have similar outlooks and so that would never work. I guess it’s like developing a friendship, you find yourself drawn to what some people have to say more than others. After my first ‘natural’ mentor left the company, and I had found someone else to fill that role, I did have a talk with him about being my mentor. I knew he was going to be moving into different positions and we would not be working as closely, but I needed to know that his door would still be open.

    My mentor has always been in the same workplace, but you could find mentors outside of work in professional organizations for example. I have served as a mentor in settings like this. It definitely takes more effort simply because you don’t see each other as often. Additionally, if you are asking a workplace question, the mentor does not know, or feel, the culture so the discussions are a bit different. Although they can certainly be equally important and valuable, just different.

    I have had times without a mentor and that has been fine. You do not have to have a mentor, but like having a friend, it’s nice to have.

  • Diana Manning , Base2 Solutions
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:24 AM

    Yes – a mentor would be very helpful as you move forward. And actually you may have several mentors at different times in your career. Back when I was in school, the concept of mentors was not common knowledge. I never had a formal mentor, however I am glad to see we take this idea more seriously now.

    For those who are interested, it is a wonderful idea. While in middle and high school, I suggest a teacher or counselor. They can also point you to programs at places like the YWCA, Better Business Bureau, Lean-In, etc. I just did a search in my area for both STEM and female mentors and found several options. Once you get into college, reach out to your department for more resources, including extracurricular organizations that can share tips on how to network – that will help you find more mentors. Also some of the mentors you may have had prior to school can still help you in college and even into the workplace. Networking skills will help tremendously in building a framework of mentors.

  • Nancy Post , John Deere
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:23 AM

    I would recommend having a mentor. There are a couple of different types of mentors. One is a tactical mentor. This is a person who can answer questions when you are entering a new position and is usually a 3–6 month relationship. You want an expert who you can trust to answer any level of question.

    A career mentor is a longer term mentor who is helping you discuss your career as it progresses. I recommend setting this up for one year initially, planning on monthly meetings. If there is a good rapport, this type of relationship may last for years. I leveraged my mentor to help me with questions I didn’t necessarily want to ask my boss and for things related to my long term career navigation. I feel that it is 100% the responsibility of the mentee to set up all meetings and plan the topics, to respect the mentor’s time. I usually sent my 2-4 agenda items to my mentor a few hours before the meeting.

    Be strategic in your choice of mentor. I suggest asking someone who is higher in the company and who may be in an area you’d enjoy working in the future. This isn’t required, but can be an added bonus to aid in your exposure to the larger organization. If this person is a part of talent planning discussions, and you represent yourself well in the mentoring meetings, it may open new opportunities in the future.

  • Susan Su , US Patent and Trademark Office
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:22 AM

    While it's not necessary to have a mentor to get into an engineering career, it will certainly be helpful. I did not have a mentor officially, but I came from a family of engineers, so in many ways I was already familiar with what some engineering professions look like. My older sister, being just four years older, was able to share a lot of her college/career experiences with me as I encountered similar issues, and I can't start to put into words how helpful that was. Mentoring programs can be found typically through your workplace, alumni association of your alma mater(s), professional societies (typically a local chapter), some unique affiliation (e.g., women biotech entrepreneurs), and by your geographical location. You can also have more than one mentor at any given time, for example, you may want a mentor for helping you through very specific challenges at work, but another person to give you a different perspective in the general field (or a different field), and a mentor for helping your navigate life/personal issues. Of course, don't over-exert yourself; generally one would just have one or two mentors at a time. The key is to establish an action plan with your mentor and follow through, such that you both are getting the most out of the relationship and you have a good idea of where it goes and when it can/should end.

  • Gina Adam , University of California at Santa Barbara
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:19 AM

    Having a good mentor is not the mandatory in order to be successful, but it definitely helps, at least to relieve some of the stress related to major decisions like what college to pick, what major to pick, going to grad school or getting a job, taking a promotion at the workplace or trying to find a different job, how to balance work and family time, etc.

    These major decisions happen throughout your life, so it is important to have a mentor who has been in a similar situation or has guided somebody else successfully through a similar situation. Having a different mentor at different stage in your life might be needed as you grow and your situation changes.

    I had an excellent mentor in middle school – my chemistry teacher – and thanks to her I got to attend some national competitions in chemistry and jump start my passion for science. In high-school, I wasn't able to get a good mentor and my chemistry teacher from middle school could provide only limited advice related to college. I would have probably be more productive and less stressed in high school if I had a mentor, but I turned out OK anyways.

    In college, I was lucky to find another excellent mentor in my sophomore year. She encouraged me to apply for undergraduate scholarships, pointing out specific opportunities, and do research. I worked with her for a few months on micro-grids and renewable energy, her research area. However, I quickly realized that I was more interested in another topic, more chemistry-related, namely nanotechnology. I knew I had to follow my passion, even at the risk of losing my mentor. Luckily, I talked to her and she was very understanding. She continued to support me with advice and opportunities throughout the years, even if I was not anymore in her field.

    How to find a mentor? That is a tricky questions, because it is 50% being proactive about it and 50% luck. Try to identify teachers or faculty members who have a track record of guiding students successfully. Ask your friends who are more senior / counselor / faculty advisor if they know anybody who is a good mentors.

    Try to distinguish yourself in front of your teachers and faculty. Be hardworking, ambitious, excited about new opportunities and thankful for any time that they spend giving your advice and mentoring you. Sometimes you might have a mentor that you get along well with, and sometimes you might not despite your best efforts, so don't stress out if you don't have a mentor all the time.

    In terms of what a good mentor does, I would say a good mentor has three characteristics. A good mentor lifts you up. (S)he sees the potential in you even when you don't believe in yourself, thus gently pushing you to achieve more than you ever thought possible. Secondly, a good mentor is sensitive to your needs and aspirations, not pushing you to work in a field or take an opportunity that you are not interested in, even if it is a great one on paper. Thirdly, a good mentor is generous with her/his time and advice and keeps in touch with you often enough.

  • Kim Wheeler , The Walt Disney Company
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:17 AM

    Regardless of your career path, field, or future goals, it is a great idea to have a mentor. Someone who can bounce ideas, inspire you, and keep you motivated is a great way to stay engaged in your career and explore new paths. Especially as women in a male dominated field, having a mentor who can help you navigate some of the non-technical challenges is so valuable. In my personal experience now that I am dealing with becoming a mother in a constantly demanding work environment, having a mentor who has been through this before has been so helpful to me.

    The way I sought my current mentor was by talking with my direct leader and asking her advice on who should be my mentor. (My mentor is within my own company.) Ultimately it is a two-way street though, so the mentor has to be willing to spend some time with you. I would recommend looking for someone who’s willing to invest in you and is open and honest. Other than that, the field is completely open.

    I will say I’ve had both male and female mentors, and the relationships have been very different. I think the female mentor has overall been more beneficial to me as she has been able to share similar encounters and experiences whereas my previous male mentor couldn’t connect with me on a personal level as much.

  • Maria Marenco , Robert Bosch
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:15 AM

    Dear engineer-to-be,

    The truth is, I don’t have a mentor. I have had one in the past, but it wasn’t a good match, so we moved along after a while. You don’t necessarily need a mentor, although it can help you a lot to have someone with experience who can coach you on the way. My recommendation is that you don’t stress out about looking for a mentor right away. Rather than that, you can start working at a place, and check out people around you, how they collaborate, how’s their workstyle. If you find someone as a good fit for you, ask her or him if they can be your mentor. Even if they say no because they don’t have time or whatever, they can surely sit down with you for an hour or two and analyze some of your questions and concerns.

    I hope you have a very interesting career, and feel supported on the way, no matter if it is through a proper mentor, or just a colleague or a friend that cares about you.

    Regards,
    Maria

  • Priscilla Bennett , Spire / Laclede Gas Company
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:13 AM

    Is it necessary to have a mentor when new to an engineering career? The answer would be “no, it’s not necessary, but it is extremely helpful and assures a certain level of success within the company.” Having a mentor ensure someone is there to answer questions, because there will definitely be a number of questions a new engineer has when starting a new career. A mentor (at the same company) will help with understanding the business but also helping understanding your role and the expectations within that role. A mentor is a “safe place” to bounce ideas off and get some “honest” feedback before heading down the wrong path.

    Did you all have mentors? I have had a number of mentors throughout my career so far…and I am now 52 years old and still seek out mentorship anytime someone is willing to offer their time. There is always something new to learn and who best to learn from than someone who has been there/done that!

    If so, how did you find them and what should you look for in a mentor? Often a mentor will make themselves known to you, but if not, take a minute to look around and look at how you envision yourself in 5/10/20 years and if you find someone in a career path that looks something like you might be interested in, talk to that person, spend a little time getting to know that person’s style and if you find you could really benefit from that person’s knowledge, do not hesitate to ask the person if they’d be willing to mentor you – but be specific when you ask! Asking a potential mentor if they wouldn’t mind mentoring you “as you learn the business” or “getting my feet on the ground and learning some of the new software at the company” or “I’m not sure I understand the leadership ladder at the company and could really use someone’s help in learning more about our company structure” are specific areas almost any senior member would be happy to help a new engineer understand.

    Going life and a new job alone is tough. Some people are very successful out on their own, while the majority of us like to have some camaraderie, friendships, and people on our side as we venture new territory. A new engineering career is not much different. You have already aced the college degree and the whole job search enough to land yourself into an engineering position, don’t forget how much easier schoolwork was with study groups and friends. The same can be said for the work environment. The more we expose ourselves to others, the more we learn from other’s experiences and expertise. Remember: If you find yourself the smartest in the room, you are probably in the wrong room! Keep learning…and growing!!

  • Mona Vernon , Thomson Reuters
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 9:59 AM

    Mentors have been very important to me and my career. They come in different flavors: there are mentors for a reason, for a season, for life. It is helpful to be clear on the desired outcome for the mentorship. Ask for a 30 minute meeting. Set the context on what you are looking to learn.

    I have had mentors that have helped me with a specific skill I needed to learn (Mentor for a reason). I also had mentors to help me manage a promotion and learn how to grow into a bigger job (Mentor for a season). Finally, there are some people who I meet one every 2-3 months to check in and to learn from who are guiding me through my career with a long view and have known me for a long time (Mentor for life).

  • Liz-Hasbleydi G. , Tech + Desing
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 9:57 AM

    Do I need a mentor? This depends on you, on where you are in your search, and on your curiosity in the areas of STEM. I consider two types of mentors, the dynamic and the passive. It does not matter what school level you are; Whether you are in elementary school, high school, or college/university, dynamic mentors have been part of our education. We started with parents at home, teachers in school, and mentors specialized in areas of our interest. Passive mentors would be for me the books, essays, videos, and documentaries that we can use to complement what we learn from dynamic mentors. Of course that’s my opinion :)

    Is it necessary to have a mentor? It depends on you. If you decide that you need a mentor, you can look for that option. Another good “mentor” is the curiosity of your mind and this motivates you to look for books, tools, or people who can collaborate with you and learn from. Sometimes when we study something like mathematics, there are processes that require a more specialized explanation, so we need a mentor. In others cases, it is simpler and you can use other tools such as books, documents, and internet research.

    Did you all have mentors? Yes, I have had mentors. From my family home starting with my parents and grandparents who liked to teach me and my siblings about different topics such as art, design, mathematics, science, engineering, dance, literature, history, philosophy, ethics, languages, and development of our curiosity in positive direction. They taught me to learn to learn, understand new ideas, and make myself useful to our society and to the world. The same thing happened in elementary school, high school, and university where my teachers were very dedicated to us students and they always collaborated in the new world of knowledge. There were specialized mentors and when we had something that we could not resolve, they helped us.

    What should I look for in a mentor? It depends where you are on your educational path. For each case, you can find them in your school. In Bogota, Colombia, where I am from, I search for the offices of departments dedicated to that. Here in the United States, I think it's the same, just look for them in the general information offices in your school, college, or your university faculty.

  • Terita Norton , The Aerospace Corporation
    Answered Monday, March 11, 2019 at 1:27 AM

    Having a mentor can help you develop professionally, can serve as a sounding board, and be an advisor, coach, or even a cheerleader that encourages you to succeed. Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship in which expertise and professional experience is shared across generations and professional skill areas. Mentors can be peers, senior experienced professionals, or even someone younger than you but with key skills in an area you may be interested in pursuing.