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Get a boost, get a mentor: Tips for your career ladder

You’ve heard the expression “career ladder” right?

If you’re a girl in a predominately male profession, there’s something you can get to help you step up that ladder. Or, even a method of putting a foot on the first rung, as an early career move. Why not get a mentor?

Why not get a mentor?

Think about it. If you can communicate with someone further up the ladder, it brings all sorts of benefits. This includes tips and insights to help you to achieve the next steps. They may even open some doors for you.

Sometimes it's about building your confidence too. Our Geeky Girl Reality report in 2016 found that getting a boost to your self-belief is invaluable. As is access to positive role models – women who have successfully forged ahead in STEM fields.

So, getting a mentor who's a successful female in your area of interest could be doubly valuable.

How do you find a mentor?

It may mean playing the numbers game; approaching a few likely candidates and seeing which one responds positively.

A great tool for identifying your “hit list” is LinkedIn – it’s a sort of social networking site for business. You could set up your own profile page and connect with appropriate contacts. We’re on it, so don’t forget to connect with the Geeky Girl team!

Networking is also a great way to meet potential mentors. Are there conferences, networking groups or trade bodies that would welcome you as a guest, student member or even a full member? Use these opportunities to approach likely candidates to be your mentor.

Or ring and email people who feel have the right credentials.

 

How to get a “yes”

Be ready to communicate clearly, whether it’s a message on LinkedIn or a personal approach at an event. 

Use a brief introduction to yourself, then deliver a carefully worded, polite and succinct request for some of their time. Be realistic. The higher up your target, the less chance they’ll give you regular slots in their diary.

So, the form this mentoring takes is up to them, though you can make suggestions. At the very least, you may get a time slot to ask them questions, either in person or by email. Or they may be willing to meet you for a quick coffee.

The best case scenario is that your mentor guides you towards internships or other work experience opportunities such as a chance to work shadow them or a colleague. They may even point you towards jobs that are recruiting!

More tips on mentor “hunting”

If you approach someone to be your mentor (particularly at an event) they may give you their time “on the spot”. It’s a good idea be always armed with searching questions, to uncover top tips and techniques for preparing for STEM gigs.

What if they say no? Be ready with a quick additional question. Ask them if they can recommend anyone who might be your mentor. Or request that they pass your details on to colleagues.

Making your way up a STEM career ladder doesn’t have to be lonely if you have the right mentor. And you always have the Geeky Girls team cheering you onwards and upwards!

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Geeky Girl Reality shares career tips to help young women kickstart their careers in STEM and relevant fields. Make sure to view the available 'gigs" on our site: internships, scholarships, and other entry-level opportunities.