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Why you need a mentor during the pandemic, and how to find one

Scott Dettman, CEO of Avenica, has advice for people seeking professional advancement during the time of COVID.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn — Social distancing and working from home have made it difficult to meet and interact with new people. But according to Scott Dettman, CEO of Minneapolis-based Avenica, there’s one type of professional relationship you shouldn’t shy away from. Mentors can help you develop professionally, and connect you to work opportunities, so Dettman has some advice about finding mentors and how to make the most out of the connection.

"Mentorship is another way to think about support and sponsorship," Dettman said. "The people who persevere through difficult times are those who turn to their networks. For those just entering the workforce, mentors can help you navigate the first steps of finding a job. Mentors help you think outside the box. It gives you the chance to bounce ideas off another person and ask questions."

During the pandemic it can be difficult to network and make connections with people, but Dettman said a lot of this can still be done virtually, via LinkedIn or with a quick email.

"Aim for people who are just a few levels above you," he said. "People often go right to executives. You can get some valuable advice from people who are in seats that you could move into next."

At a time when many fresh college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, finding a mentor can go a long way in getting a job, according to Dettman.

"Three or four million people graduate college each year," Dettman said. "The ones who get the jobs fastest are those with a network. At Avenica, we work a lot with first-generation college students. Much of our work is helping them leverage our professional network since they might not have one of their own. Getting your resume, application and credentials reviewed by someone, like a mentor, who can help get you in front of the right person is the most important element of the job search process."