Do you want to advance professionally and make an effort every day and hope that opportunities arise for you? But are you often told that you need even more experience or that other skills are important when it comes to promotion? How about if someone who has already achieved your goal is at your side as a mentor with advice and action?

Getting up is often not easy because, for example, as a team leader or project manager, different skills are important than when 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 will prevent you from working harder and faster and the promotion being a long way off.

Reading tip: Getting ahead professionally: Become a senior

What is mentoring?

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

According to the Google Mentoring is one: Advice and support from experienced specialists or managers.

Benefits of a mentor

A Survey among 4,000 executives from 1979 showed already that two thirds had mentors. Exactly these two thirds had higher salaries much earlier, pursued specific career plans more systematically at higher hierarchical levels and expressed greater job satisfaction.

Reading tip: Become a manager

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

The advantages of mentoring in a nutshell:

  • They 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 during the ascent and it runs faster and more transparently.
  • You benefit from the existing network of his mentor
  • You are allowed to ask questions that you would otherwise not be able to ask, e.g. specific salary figures
  • You get feedback, which companies or HR are often not allowed to give you due to labor law

Find a mentor for the career and process

The first thing to do is to have a rough idea of your career goals. Now look for someone in 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 you can’t think of anyone, please ask contacts if you can “someone, someone knows who is XY” . Alternatively, you can also write to contacts on Xing.

Now speak 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 to meet over coffee so that I can ask you a few questions?“After the meeting, ask that we could meet again in 1-2 months and report on the progress.

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

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

I did it that way!

I myself have had specific goals for a long time and have almost always looked for a mentor for my many projects. In the course of time I got to know a wide variety of people who are my mentors to this day.

Professional mentors help me advance my career. I wanted to get into top management very early on, so I looked for the following mentors:

  • A board of directors of a company with 400 employees
  • A division manager of a corporation
  • An executive consulting manager

I have often asked the mentors how they got into top management and what I am still missing. We meet every 3 months for 3 hours to eat.

I have two academic mentors for my doctorate. They help me with words and deeds in the implementation of my academic projects and put me in touch with publishers. I hold regular meetings with them on a monthly basis. The mentors are:

  • My doctoral supervisor
  • A post-doc

I also have mentors for my side projects such as Projektify eV or my blog, whom I meet more or less regularly. The mentors are:

  • A startup founder
  • A chairman of the board
  • A board member of a consulting company


A mentor can help you understand and quickly learn hidden rules and concepts for professional success. Scientific studies already show that success is often linked to a good mentor. I also recommend that you take this chance. I also use 4 hours a month to coordinate with my mentors.

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

[dada] [fotolia]

I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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