From IT BoB: How To Mentor

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The mentor-protege relationship is the most important bond professionals will develop in their careers, but it can be a tricky one to navigate. How does one take on a protege, or approach a possible mentor?

Cheryl Neal, vice president at Avnet, has played roles on both sides of the relationship. Some of her mentoring has come from structured programs set up by Avnet to help employees navigate this very path, but she has found that informal mentorships are her favorite type of experience.

“Many times they can be very project-based,” Neal said. “What I love about that is you have a start and an end to it, and you get some quick learning about a subject, and it’s not intrusive to either party.”


It may sound counterintuitive, but project-based mentorships are often successful because there is an end date in place. Neal is very firm on the stance that mentoring relationships should not last forever.

“When you set up a mentorship, you need to start up with an end in mind,” Neal said. That means laying out goals for both parties, so that accomplishments and achievements don’t get lost in the haze.

Young employees also should not be afraid to approach someone whose success and skill set they admire, according to Neal.

Overall, she said, what is most important is that each individual is "continuing to learn.”


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