Why Finding a Mentor Is Just Like Dating

If you ask me the one thing I want most in life, it is not the house with the white picket fence, not a baby, not even a million dollars (ok maybe a million dollars).

What I want most is a mentor – a real, live mentor to call my very own. And for the life of me I can’t figure out why it is so hard to find one.  

You think it would be easy with the amount of networking groups multiplying daily, the newfound initiatives within corporate structure encouraging mentorship (sometimes even forcing it).

But it’s not - at least it’s not for me, and many of the ambitious, intelligent, like-minded individuals that I call my friends. 

It is as though finding a mentor is almost as complex as dating. It is exciting, emotional, captivating, disappointing and can be filled with trepidation. 

I hated dating. 

The initial meeting - the crush, the desire to impress. The hope they ask for your email…or the adrenaline rush of asking for theirs. The first date - the nervous energy, sharing your story, your passions; not wanting to seem overeager or coming on too strong. The inevitable gush of admiration, immediately followed by casual nonchalance.  

The follow-up - will s/he call, won’t s/he? Do I reach out first? Should I wait another day? (DO I SOUND DESPERATE!? Probably, yes. Crap.) 

It is exhausting. 

I thought I found “the one” a couple times, only to have the relationship fizzle and fade as said would-be mentor stopped responding once I left the company, rescheduled drinks for the third time, or gave haphazard advice that seemed more self-serving and than serving me any purpose at all.

The problem it seems is mentors aren’t really looking for mentees - not outright that is. And I get it - mentors tend to be accomplished, interesting and therefore extremely busy individuals. However, as Michelle Obama said in 2012,  “When

You’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity...you do not slam it shut behind you...you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”

Maybe I don’t see slamming, but I sure don’t see too much reaching back. 

Now this is not meant as a dig at those successful people who haven’t given back to the younger generations, but rather intended as a proposal of sorts…

While I may have hated dating, I am impressed, some might even say intrigued (ok fine, FASCINATED), by what the digital era has brought to courtship. So I ask, what if finding a mentor/finding a mentee…giving one’s time - was just as simple as say…Tinder? 

Swipe left, swipe right. Send a nod, get a match, start a conversation, make a date. 

Mentor and mentee profiles - “30, Los Angeles, Connected through George Lucas (I wish). Went to NYU. Works at The Best Company. About Me: Witty tagline that makes me seem intellectually attractive, worth investing time in, and all together a well-adjusted, ambitious human.”

Okay well perhaps that is a bit rudimentary, but you get the overall idea – streamlining the process, allowing those with not so much time to still give back, but doing so on their own schedule…and in a casual way.

Once the match is made we still may go through the insufferable waves of emotion – but at least we know they WANT to be a mentor, and have the opportunity to do so in a more non-committal way. From there it is really up to us mentees to screw it up… or make it count.

So Tinder, Match.com, eHarmony…I am waiting, and am VERY available.

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