Finding a mentor is challenging in the best of circumstances. Even if you know dozens of seasoned veterans in your field, it’s hard to broach the subject of mentorship and find a good fit both relationally and from a career perspective. For those in a classified environment, finding a mentor can become even more challenging.

Finding a mentor

Your mentor doesn’t have to work at the same company you do, although looking at your company might be a great place to start. You can check with colleagues to see if they have recommendations, or find someone in the position you’d like to be in when your career is a little further down the road.

Mentors should have certain characteristics like honesty, integrity, and being open to a continued relationship. While the relationship may not last forever, not much growth or mentoring can happen over a single cup of coffee, so mentors should be open to meeting multiple times.

Remember that mentoring doesn’t even have to occur in person. Zoom mentoring is a thing, and so is mentoring outside of work completely. This can help open up a wider range of options as you look for the ideal mentor.

Will You Be My Mentor?

Asking someone to mentor you can be a bit like asking for a date. But hopefully, you’ve already gotten to know this person through working together or some other business-related interaction. When you ask, make sure you’re clear with your expectations and the goals you’d like their help with. And if they say no, accept graciously and don’t let that stop you from reaching out to someone else. Mentoring is beneficial to both sides of the relationship, and if you’re willing to give what you get you should be able to find someone, though it may take a few tries.

Stay on topic

Once you find a mentor, remember that you’re discussing your career and not the intricacies of what you’re working on. Even if your mentor has a security clearance, need to know rules still apply. If he or she doesn’t need to know, then don’t tell them. This will keep you both out of trouble and from potentially causing security breaches and reaping the consequences.

A good mentor can leave a lasting impact on your relationships and on your career. Even though it can be challenging to find a mentor in the cleared workforce, it’s well worth the time spent looking and getting through the initial awkwardness of asking them.

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Brynn Mahnke is a freelance writer specializing in researching, writing, and ghostwriting for clients in the career, finance, SaaS, and B2B/B2C niches. She focuses on writing case studies, whitepapers, ebooks, and articles showcasing the value her clients bring to their customers. When she isn't writing, you can find her running, cycling, or wrangling children. She can be reached through her website or at