Where are our mentors?

August 5th, 2011

This is a guest blog by Alexa Cole, associate of Cole Consulting.

Alexa with mentor/aunt Janet. Janet and Alexa currently live on opposite coasts.

In this age we are living in, where knowledge is free and if there is ever a doubt we throw around the now household term “just google it”, I am constantly wondering: where are our mentors? Our teachers of the old crafts, the wise elders, the parents you don’t just visit on holidays but who share with you real-time skills for a better life — how to balance a check book, sew a button, grow your own food. Those that teach outside of what is taught in school curriculum and help us find our true path in life.

I’ve recently been looking to change fields within my career and this has involved 4 months of vigorous searching for something that feeds me. There have been many nights recently where I make vision boards and eat ice cream, trying to quell depression. There have also been many coffee dates with people I don’t really know, trying to glean some kind of sign about what I’m meant to do next.
One such date, with my second cousin’s wife, Natalie, was more of a family visit turned social networking meeting. Natalie is beautiful, strong, and has a way of saying things like they must take no effort at all; “You should really talk to my friend Pam. She lives in Oakland and is very involved in the women’s health business and could probably help you find a job.” Natalie’s not the only sweet soul doling out names and places to me like sides to my dinner dish, “no problem at all.”
I respect the advice and appreciate hints on my path, but what I am really after is: How can I find a great career path like you, that feels fulfilling and pays decently? To this, Natalie replies, “I had this amazing mentor about 15 years ago and she got me this great job and helped me.. and showed me…, introduced me…” on and on. I was still hanging on to this term “mentor”, wondering how I could get one and how much they would cost. Just a week before I had reached out to my old college counselor via facebook to say, “Hope you’re loving Maine. xoxo. I’m losing my mind. Can you still counsel me pretty please even though I’m 3000 miles away now and already have my degree from your institution? xoxo”
I haven’t heard back from her yet and wouldn’t expect anyone to take a time out from summer vacation to help an alum who should have figured it all out after the $40k tuition. But I haven’t figured it all out, and frankly, even my friends who seem to have it all together don’t have it figured out. So where are our mentors to guide our way? Where are these connections between hearts and minds — old and young — where valuable tools and resources can be passed down?
Maybe they’re teaching about farming, or being an astronaut, or some field I am not often passing between.   Or maybe I’m supposed to find the path by myself, listen more closely to the signs and friends around me. Sure would be nice to have a little extra guidance, that’s for sure. If you know of any mentors who are looking for a disciple, please send them to 1800GETAJOB, where I’m currently forwarding all of my calls. Until then, thanks for reading. And may we all find the path we are seeking, with help or without, for all of our days.