Do you want to advance your career and make an effort every day and hope that opportunities will arise for you? But are you often told that you need more experience or that other skills are important in promotion? What if someone who has already achieved your goal is a mentor to you?

Ascension is often not easy, as, for example, as a team leader or project manager, different skills are important than when you are employed as an employee in day-to-day business. You may not know this and an experienced mentor can help you learn the unwritten laws. This way you avoid working harder and faster and the transport is still far away.

Reading tip: Getting on with it: Becoming a senior

What is mentoring?

Mentoring goes back to the historical roots of Homer’s Odyssey. When Odysseus joined the campaign against Troy and left his native Ithaca, he asked his friend Mentor to take over the education of his son Telemach. This was one of the first historical mentions of mentoring.

According to Google, mentoring is one: advice and support from experienced professionals or executives.

Benefits of a mentor

A survey of 4,000 executives in 1979 already showed that two-thirds had mentors. It was precisely these two-thirds who had higher salaries significantly earlier, pursued more systematic career plans at higher levels of the hierarchy, and expressed greater job satisfaction.

Reading tip: Become a leader

There are also numerous individual examples:Ernest Rutherford was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for outstanding scientific achievements. John Thomson, who also received a Nobel Prize, acted as his mentor.

The benefits of mentoring in a nutshell:

  • You will learn the techniques of an experienced role model that will help them directly
  • You get direct feedback and learn to assess yourself better.
  • You hear exactly what is important when you climb and it runs faster and more transparently.
  • You benefit from his mentor’s existing network
  • You may ask questions that you cannot otherwise ask, e.g. specific salary
  • You get feedback that companies or HR are often not allowed to give you because of labour law

Finding a mentor for your career and the process

First of all, you should know roughly your professional goals. Now look for someone on user groups, conferences or private contacts who has already achieved your professional goal. Examples are:

  • A team leader (leadership)
  • An IT architect (professional)
  • A Project Manager (Methodical)

If no one comes to mind, please ask contacts if “someone knows someone who is XY”. Alternatively, you can write to Contacts on Xing.

Now talk to the mentor. For example, say the following: “You have a lot of experience and I would like to learn from you. Can we arrange for a coffee to ask you a few questions?” After the meeting, ask that you could meet again in 1-2 months and report on the progress.

Now prepare the conversation and write down 5-10 questions you ask the mentor. They are welcome to be very open and ask the mentor to tell his story about how he got to the position. Listen carefully and roughly arrange a topic for the next conversation.

Tip: Prepare the conversations by either reporting a specific situation and requesting feedback or writing down specific questions.

That’s how I did it!

I myself have long been looking for concrete goals and almost always a mentor for my many projects. In the course of time, I have met various people who are still my mentors to this day.

Professional mentors help me to advance my career. I myself wanted to go into top management at a very early age and therefore i was looking for the following mentors:

  • A board of directors of a company with 400 employees
  • A division manager of a group
  • An Executive Consulting Manager

I have often asked the mentors how you got into top management and what I still lack. We meet about every 3 months for 3h to eat.

For my doctorate I have two academic mentors. They help me with advice and deeds in the implementation of my academic projects and arrange for me to establish contacts with publishers. I meet with them monthly in regular meetings. The mentors are:

  • My doctoral father
  • A post-doc

For my side projects such as the Projektify e.V. or my blog I also have mentors, which I meet more or less regularly. The mentors are:

  • A start-up founder
  • A Chairman of the Supervisory Board
  • A board of directors of a consulting company


A mentor can help you understand hidden rules and concepts for professional success and learn them quickly. Even scientific studies show that success is often associated with a good mentor. I also recommend that you take this opportunity. I also use 4hours a month to talk to my mentors.

My tip is: You should support other people as a mentor, but always have your own mentors. Reading tip: Become a mentor

Image source: Coffee photo created by freepic.diller –

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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