A recent classroom discussion centered on how to find a mentor. Is it a formal or informal practice? Should a person look inside or outside the organization? Does a young person have enough experience to mentor others? The answer to these questions seems to be "yes."
Mentoring can take many shapes. Many organizations have formal programs where people are paired with more experienced employees for a specific time period. Some people in class stated that these "forced" pairings did not always work well for them. They preferred a less formal approach because they felt the relationship had to occur naturally. The ones people seemed to like best were those in which the workers found common ground and "clicked" with a colleague.
The biggest advantage to having an "internal" mentor was thought to be having someone able to provide guidance and feedback on how to navigate the political waters of the company. On the other hand, sometimes people found it more helpful to have a mentor external to the organization so that they could advise with greater objectivity.
Mentoring has long been thought to be a relationship between one experienced person and one at the beginning of his career. While this is still true, many people reported that they really enjoyed helping a more experienced person to learn in areas outside their expertise. The most important fact is that no one is ever too young or too old to help others.