Cast Your Net Wide for Mentors
Mentors are an integral part of achieving success and advancing in your career. Lawyers go through many stages, professionally and personally, and finding mentors along the way is important. While a formal mentoring program helps create a mentoring culture, it is the organic mentoring relationships that are most beneficial. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. Great mentors are both relatable and inspiring. It is about developing a connection with a person that you can identify with in some small or large part, generally because you see that person further down a road on which you are heading.
While it’s always great for women to find women mentors, the reality is that many of us find ourselves in situations where there are simply no women in the positions we aspire to reach. For that reason, it can be essential to proactively seek mentorship from men. I have had many mentors throughout my career—women, men, partners, associates, co-counsel, and even clients. Most of the time, my mentors have been senior to me, but not always. People have different strengths, and it is wonderful to be able to draw from and give to those around us.
There are times, however, when it is crucial to be able to connect with women mentors. When it comes to biological demands, such as having children and nursing, finding women mentors can be crucial. Also, unfortunately, societal norms around childrearing or gender bias create situations in which male mentors are not relatable. This is when finding positive women, to serve as role models and advisors, is so important. By casting my net wide, I have managed to find such women in my career. It has not always been easy. That is why I try to make myself available to other women. In the end, I often get more out of these relationships than I anticipated.