Finding a Career Mentor

Not too long ago, I’d actually started thinking about seeking out a mentor in IT. I thought it would be good to find someone who has followed the career path that I’m interested in as far as building up a career in IT and get his/her thoughts, tips and direction on how to do it. I haven’t really figured out who to target, but I also haven’t looked into it a lot because I got off track by applying for jobs. I also have another blog now where I blog about college football, partially to make a little money on it but also to establish one place on the web where I have most or all of my sports pieces so that it’s easier for people to follow me and for me to gain more attention in sports journalism. I post new material on that blog every day, so it’s taking quite a bit of my time. Luckily, the down time at work is allowing me to write most of my pieces there, get them posted and then do some light marketing in order to drive traffic over to that blog.

Well, for whatever reason, sports journalism opportunities keep presenting themselves to me before IT ones do right now. First, it was getting sports job interviews. Now, instead of finding an IT mentor per my original idea, I inadvertently ended up with a sports journalism mentor. He writes for one of the major sports news sources, and most of those companies with an interactive online presence allow you to email writers comments, questions, etc. A lot of people email these sports writers to call them idiots for what they’ve written or to argue with them about their viewpoint. I’ve gotten it before, and, thinking back on it, it’s kind of a compliment because I think that’s when you know your writing matters at all. At the same time, I almost never email sports writers because I think it’s generally a waste of time. Most of them read what you write, but they won’t interact with you unless maybe on Twitter. You might get a “thanks for reading,” but nothing that really lets you know this is a real person. I’m writing this as if it’s a negative thing, but I’m also a big hypocrite on this point. For me, most sports fans are too illogical and emotional to be responding to their emails or comments.

Well, I did email this guy, and he is someone whose writing I’ve been reading for two or three years now, which has spanned over his last two jobs. I guess I got bored enough to email him a sports question, and about a sport I only watch when the tournament comes around. He emailed me back, which was surprising to me. Even more surprising, he emailed me again when he put the question on their site to make sure I saw it. So, I figured he might actually respond if I ask him some questions about sports writing. And he did. We spent the last couple of hours while I was at work emailing back and forth. He answered everything I asked him. I never asked him for advice, but he gave it anyway and told me I can email him whenever and he’d be happy to help. I responded with some more information about my background so he could give more advice, and he paid attention to it and just responded to me as if we’re penpals or friends instead of in a more formal way. He interacted with me via email the way I interact with people via email, and I never find people who email the way I do–very attentive, detail oriented, covering everything mentioned, attempting to be as helpful as possible.

Having someone offer to help me without my asking him to is surprising to me because I honestly think most people are full of shit. Whether you ask people for help or not, it is my opinion that you can’t count on most people. I don’t trust people, I don’t think people want to help and I don’t like asking people for help. I’m sure this is a huge part of the reason why, until recently, I haven’t really liked my new job–I felt it was set up for me to need entirely too much help from other people. But most of the people around there seem to value “team work.” The trust/help factors also probably have a little bit to do with why I still don’t have an IT mentor, even though I came up with the idea to get an IT mentor and not a sports journalist mentor. Obviously, I am not anyone who would be good at career networking, and I’ve obviously never found a job that way. But my SJ mentor told me that’s how he got some of his sports jobs, and I know there are a couple of IT jobs I could get because of it–one from being related to the right person, and one from talking to the right person one night while I was still working in hotels.

What I’ll do with all this information, I don’t yet know.

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