Meet The Women Who Could Change Your Career For Good

Finding a mentor can seem like an impossible task. What do you say, "Hi, will you be my mentor?" It's like asking someone on a first date to move in with you. But, if anyone knows how to do it, it's the founders of Glassbreakers, a networking site that helps women in the tech and advertising industries (more industries are in the works) find mentors.

We met up with CEO Eileen Carey and CTO Lauren Mosenthal in San Francisco, where their precocious, four-month-old start-up (it already has 10,000 members) is based. And, while the two say their all-business look is hoodies and high ponytails, they couldn't resist showing off some new clothes from Neiman Marcus. Ahead, they give us eight foolproof tips for finding a mentor — and getting the most out of the relationship once you've got one. No awkwardness required.
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Photographed by Guy Lowndes at thoughtbot.
Have more than one mentor.
"Glassbreakers is based on a peer mentorship model, so there is really no limit to how many mentors you can have. The traditional mentorship program was established by men and was hierarchical — mentor, mentee — and when you look at the workforce, there are way too many mentees and not enough mentors. Peer mentorship allows you to have multiple mentors and support each other as you come up."
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Photographed by Guy Lowndes at thoughtbot.
Find a mentor near your own age and skill level.
"A big thing in software development is peer programing, which means you sit next to someone and you have two screens — you’re basically coding together, working through it together. It’s actually kind of awesome when you’re paired with someone at your skill level because it helps you both get better. And, being on the same level, it helps you understand how to keep moving forward on a very detailed level."
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Photographed by Guy Lowndes at thoughtbot.
But, don't be afraid to have older ones, too.
"My boss at my last company was a really important mentor. She’s been in Silicon Valley for like 30 years and is a total badass. When I quit to start Glassbreakers, she was one of our very first investors."
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Photographed by Guy Lowndes at Galvanize.
You can learn from people who are different than you — in fact, sometimes, it's preferable.
"We have very different skill sets, and we’re both able to own those skill sets but still collaborate. In Silicon Valley, there’s a lot of talk about doers and builders and they are one in the same, but you need to have the hacker and hustler. All the good partnerships have that element to them."
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Photographed by Guy Lowndes at Galvanize.
Once you connect, set aside time to talk — don't rely on emailing back and forth.
"If you're in the same city, suggest a couple optimal locations for the two of you to meet and a few windows of availability. Don't let being far away stop you, though. Schedule a Skype or Google Hangout. If nothing gets on the calendar initially, follow up!"
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Photographed by Guy Lowndes at Galvanize.
Make sure your mentor is someone you can be completely transparent with.
"One of the pillars of Glassbreakers is that the personal and the professional often intertwine. If you’re looking for someone you can get really good advice from, make it someone you can be fully transparent with — about promotions, about your personal life — because your personal life is also a factor in your professional life."
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Photographed by Guy Lowndes.
If you want a mentor, BE a mentor.
"We firmly believe that everyone has something to offer and share. It's a mix of helping each other. Don't go in thinking, 'What am I going to get out of this?' Focus on what qualities you bring to the table. Once you're a mentor, listen, be yourself, and share your own experiences."
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Photographed by Guy Lowndes.
Introduce, introduce, introduce.
"Always think about how you can connect each other's networks. If I [Lauren] were paired up with Eileen, and she was trying to understand user experience better, I'd think of three other women I know who are awesome at UX and take the extra step — and she’d do the same for me. It’s all about being mutually beneficial."