November 6, 2008 at 12:19 pm #61880
So…any hints/tips on finding a good mentor? Within DOD would be preferred but outside DOD is OK…my concern is that compared to the private sector – where I worked until about a year ago – there seems to be a lack of available or maybe just visible to me, career path counseling within my org.
November 7, 2008 at 12:39 pm #61912
James V. PritchertParticipant
I have run many successful senior level mentoring programs while I worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Finding the right mentor can mean everything to you in terms of development and advancement.
You will probably need to chase one down. In my search for program participants, I heard the same thing over and over again, “I am too busy, no time.” Obviously, there is time and the senior leaders need to acknowledge that. In one case, I approached an Undersecretary to give me some likely names. Armed with that list, I was able to tell the likely participants that they were specially named by the Undersecretary and they signed on.
I suggest that you try this approach since it is relatively painless and it will give you a rich source of potential mentors. Once you have narrowed your list of likely mentors, present them with a short list, possibly five things that you are seeking in a mentor and see if they can accommodate that. Agree on a mentoring program length, perhaps one year and decide how much time your mentor will devote to you. At least four hours per month is a good start.
It’s very important to find a mentor who will challenge you and energize you. It’s not important that you like each other, but you must have mutual respect and honesty. In other words, find someone as different from you as possible. That may be in your current organization or in another one.
November 7, 2008 at 3:45 pm #61910
Earlier this year I was introduced to a professional organization established for the purpose of facilitating mentoring. The name of the group is MentorNet, and they seem mainly focused on providing mentoring for people in engineering and science related industries. Not sure if this is something that can help, but it might be worth looking at.
November 7, 2008 at 3:51 pm #61908
Thanks for the reply and the advice. I like the bit about getting the list from the Big Boss and then using that – well played sir. 🙂
November 7, 2008 at 3:52 pm #61906
Thanks – I’ll check it out…do you think it might be worthwhile to start a “Find a Mentor” group here?
p.s. I like the SL avatar…
November 7, 2008 at 6:38 pm #61904
I looked and there is no group yet for mentors so I think it would be a good idea for you to set one up. Then people can join and indicate if they are available to be a mentor or if they are looking for a mentor and in what particular field or skill. Or maybe it is something that can be added to our profile questions.
(I actually found out about MentorNet in SL; I’ve found SL to be a great place to learn new things and meet people)
November 7, 2008 at 6:49 pm #61902
Hi Mark – I think setting up a group would be a great idea. As part of my work with AABPA, I connect students with professionals in the budgeting profession during our symposia. It’s only a casual connection and not a formal mentoring relationship but I’ve found that AABPA members are very open to sharing their knowledge and advice.
Good luck and I’ll keep an eye out for the group,
November 7, 2008 at 10:41 pm #61900
November 8, 2008 at 5:20 pm #61898
For a couple of years, I looked for a career counselor, aka Mentor, that could occasionally give me good advice where there was none in my command. Finally after a few well placed emails and discussions within the Senior Executives Association, two months ago they began a mentoring program. I now have a mentor, a retired DoD SES, and we have exchanged philosophies, ideas, and he has given me some very good suggestions to advance my career aspirations. So, if you are a GS14/15, take a look at the program. It works
November 21, 2008 at 1:23 pm #61896
Many senior executives are willing to mentor but are not active within any official program. First, know what your career objectives are. Look at the thought leadership who fill positions in the path you are striving for. Ask them for advice.
November 25, 2008 at 3:23 pm #61894
Hi Mark – I just attended the AABPA symposium last week and the opening speaker was Sallyanne Harper from GAO. She talked extensively about the GAO training program which includes some unique mentoring opportunities. You might want to look into their program for some ideas. Her slides are posted at aabpa.org.
November 28, 2008 at 9:10 pm #61892
Wow, I’m currently going thru The USDA’s Graduate School’s Executive Leadership Development Program and I too am having a bit of a tough time finding a mentor whom can boost me towards my ultimate dream career… I guess it’s all a matter of changing my outlook of the potentials I have and my attitude about what I expect (at least a little bit)… good luck with yours!
November 29, 2008 at 1:08 am #61890
Bryan …..thanks…at one level I just need someone at a low level to help me find my way through this maze and at another level…I need someone to help me think through how long I want to stay in the Fed…
November 29, 2008 at 1:09 am #61888
Thanks for the pointer…I will definitely check out the slides…
November 29, 2008 at 1:10 am #61886
I guess one question is what is your “ultimate dream career”?
November 30, 2008 at 8:14 am #61884
My ultimate dream career? wow, it involves a little bit of this and a little bit of that… I seem to have a hybrid knowledge of accounting (particularly in auditing), computer technology (most especially in webmastering) and more of public administration (since this is especially my degree of study)… so my dream career is to one day lead my agency as a Director (or Deputy Director)… but for now, I’ll settle as a Management Analyst… it’s quite diversified in our agency and I enjoy it!
I’m under the USDA Graduate School’s Pacific Islands Training Incentive “Executive Leadership Development Program” and my mentor is the Internal Audit/Control Financial Manager… problem is, my mentor is afraid of giving me personal life lessons… I think he’s concentrating on the mentor definition too deeply.
January 13, 2010 at 9:43 pm #61882
How have others found their mentors? I’ve met a few of my mentors through associations as well as former bosses.
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