Are Mentors Still Relevant?

If you like to peruse the career book section as much as I do, I’m sure you have noticed a common theme: Having a mentor is priceless.

Now, I have received a lot of advice in the years since I have been out of school, but one tidbit seems to superseded them all: everyone has told me I should find a mentor.I have a lot of friends who have mentors (one even has a spiritual counselor), but I can’t say I have met anyone who has filled that position in my life in an official way.

Today I pose this question to you: Are mentors still relevant in this changing job scape?

I started thinking about this after I caused a bit of a ruckus at a networking event for journalists in a few weeks ago. During the course of the meeting I begin to feel as if we were spending a good chunk of the evening reminiscing the “good ole’ days” of journalism. Or more specifically, these people spent a lot of time saying where they “used to” work, or who they worked with before.  The pink elephant in the room was that a lot of these people had been laid off, and they are now working as freelancers to make ends meet.

When pressed for ideas for panels that could be held at upcoming conventions, I suggested there should be a panel for specifically for young journos focused on the changes in our industry and the ways in which we should address them.  I justified my idea by saying that many older journalist (even ones that got in the game five years ago, honestly) might be out of touch with how to advise young journos to proceed with career planning given the changes in the industry and the economy.

I endured some evil glares from the O.G.s in the room, but the young folk thanked me. They told me I was bold for speaking up. One lady, who was a bit older, said she felt like she could still learn a lot from older journalists. I don’t totally disagree with her, I do believe I could learn a lot from my peers who have been in the game a long time. Can they give me advice on how to proceed in the next step of my career if I choose to stay in this industry? Hmm… a good question to ponder.

I tell this story because I wonder with all of the changes that have happened recently (economy, job outlooks, ect.), do you think it is possible for a mentor-like figure to still give relevant advice that could help you get to the next step?

Thoughts, please.

  1. #1 by Reading Has Purpose on October 14, 2010 - 8:11 am

    Nothing under the sun is new. Whatever you have to deal with someone has been there and done than. I think the advice you get from someone that’s been around the block is invaluable. Of course, it is our responsibility discern what is applicable to us and what isn’t; what advice we will use or let roll off our shoulder. But I don’t think there will ever be a time when mentoring relationships are not relevant.


  2. #2 by jessJ on October 15, 2010 - 6:57 pm

    I agree with the above. Having a mentor is really something that every young professional needs, and needs to be. They can tell you the things that aren’t in the career books. For example, my mentor gave me great advice for working as a black woman in higher education, that I have taken with me into grad school. I don’t know many career books that can tell you what organizations are most diverse, progressive, what schools are truly more accepting of change and diversity and etc. Things to look for that aren’t readily available to the untrained eye…

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