The Perfect Mentor

September 25, 2008 by  

You have to give the Firm credit for trying.  We were just told that effective this week, all junior associates will be assigned formal, volunteer mentors to “cultivate intellectual curiosity and professional development in an informal, social context.” The general impression among the junior ranks is that the actual idea is to cultivate some asskissery for the senior associates looking to impress the partners with their commitment to Firm citizenship.  The $100-a-month per-pair budget “to be used to for events pertinent to the mentor-mentee dynamic” may also have had some motivational pull.  Truth is, I was ambivalent about the whole thing.  Until I found out who my mentor was.

It’s Glenn.  Glenn, who has a lack of personality exceeded only by a lack of style, charm or ability to make direct eye contact.  Glenn, who bills more than any associate at the Firm and lives with his cousin and a weimaraner named Athos.  In other words, of the (several) senior associates I go out of my way to avoid at the Firm, Glenn’s right there at the top.  So, naturally, when my mentor assignment came down, who else could it be?

The main problem here is not so much that Glenn’s a human robot, but that THERE IS NOTHING IN THE UNIVERSE I WANT TO LEARN FROM THIS MENTOR.  Sort of makes the whole thing a little pointless, no?  Sure, he’s smart and could no doubt pass along all sorts of juicy bits about the ’34 Act, but the main point of a mentor is more about non-quant stuff, right?  Life skills, leadership and all that?  Let’s see: Glenn threw a coffee cup at a secretary three years ago, has had two nervous breakdowns, and has a Second Life avatar named, yes, “Glenn.” He also routinely blames junior associates for his own mistakes in front of clients and partners.  What a catch.

On second thought, maybe I’m going about this all wrong.  Maybe Glenn is the perfect mentor.  I can learn from him.  I can learn exactly how to avoid becoming anything like him. I’ll hang on each bit of advice he snorts at me about partner-associate dynamics and work-life balance and will make sure to do the opposite.  I’ll study every step my mentor takes and make sure to take two steps in the other direction.  And with any luck, by the time I’m a senior associate, Glenn will have mentored me into accomplishing my main goal at the Firm—nay, of life in general: to wind up as little like my mentor as humanly possible.

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