We Can Work it Out



Dear Dharma,

I love your site.  I signed up so that I always get the latest in my email so I never miss any! Now I have a question that I hope you can help me with.

I have a job I really love doing what I studied for.  The company is a good fit for me too.  I have only been out of university for a couple of years, and am slowly getting real world experience to go with my “book learnin’ “.

There is a contract employee at my office, with many years’ experience doing the sort of stuff I want to be doing in the future.  He has a modest reputation in our industry, and does contract work as a kind of “hired gun” to shepherd along big projects.  I REALLY want to approach him to be a mentor to me, as he is the role model for how I want my career to grow.

How can I do this without it turning into an awkward mess?  We are friendly in a busy office sort of way, but nothing more than that.  I can’t think of how to approach him with this big request.

Can We Work It Out?

Dear Work It Out,

Oh my goodness, this is a lovely problem to have!

First of all, congratulations on landing a job in the field that you studied for.  And at a company you really like to boot!  Trust me when I say that this isn’t a common occurrence…

The best way to initially approach this guy is by email.  I considered suggesting that you just drop by his office but… you never know what you’ll be catching someone in the middle of… so email is best to start.

Keep it brief, but offer a bit of back ground regarding your line of studies and what your career objectives are.  Then let him know you really admire what he’s accomplished in this space and ask him if he would consider being your mentor.

Be sure to let him know that you are willing to work within whatever time constraints he has, because that will likely be the only reason he would hesitate – time…

If he says yes, you’re good to go!  Make sure to be prepared with questions and an objective when you meet with him and be respectful of his time – as in, be on time and be accountable to whatever commitments you make.

If he says no, it doesn’t need to be awkward.  It’s okay to be disappointed, but respond to his decline as graciously as possible and be sure to still be friendly and approachable when you see him in the hallways.

Good luck!



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