How to choose a mentor

A 30-year Progressive employee shares her secret for finding a professional mentor

2 min read

July 2021

Adult female pointing at papers on a table while an adult female looks on

Ten years with a company makes you a seasoned professional. At 20 years, you’re a legend. But when you have 30 years—like Progressive Recruiting Manager Julie—you’ve officially reached Grand Master status.

It goes without saying that we can all learn a lot from Julie. So, what does she think is the best way to supercharge your career? “If you’re serious about improving and growing professionally, mentors are one of the best ways to do it,” Julie says. Here are Julie’s thoughts on what to look for in a mentor:

Someone with knowledge, skills, and traits you admire

To find a mentor, look for someone who has qualities you’re looking to develop in your professional life. They don’t always they have to be a manager or supervisor, though. They can be anyone … even a tenured member of your team. Julie recalls the moment she identified one of her first mentors. “Chriss seemed to have time for everyone, knew everything, and worked with sincerity and integrity. I looked at her and thought, ‘I want to be like her!’”

Finding a professional mentor like Chriss is a great chance to learn what they know.

Someone who is in your circle

While it may be tempting to ask an inspiring senior leader to mentor you, a smarter choice is someone in your immediate circle. Ideally, find a mentor who knows your line of work. This makes them better equipped to offer personalized insights into how you can develop in your role. Julie also stresses the importance of finding someone you can be honest with.

“If there’s someone whom you communicate well with and feel you can talk to about anything or ask anything of, it might be the right person to mentor you,” she says.

Someone who fits in to your current career stage

It’s rare to have the same mentor your whole career. So, don’t stress about finding your “forever mentor.” Find a mentor who’s the right fit for this stage of your career. Julie’s had multiple mentors in her three decades with Progressive. Each one was right for that specific time in her professional life. She also notes that mentors don’t have to be career coaches. They can be anyone who helps you grow professionally.

“Progressive’s CEO, Tricia Griffith, has shared on multiple occasions that when she wants to learn more about what’s going on in an area of the business she hasn’t directly worked in (or hasn’t worked in for a while), she’ll seek out a mentor from that department to gain insight,” Julie says. “We can all learn something from anyone at any level.”

Someone who will boost your professional development

Mentorships are the great way to learn from the best. Keep your eyes open for people with these qualities and you just might find a mentor who can take you to the next level.

Interested in reading more about life at Progressive? You can learn more about employee experiences, browse career tips and advice, or get a peek at our culture from our people’s perspectives.

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