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wall street journal

wall street journal

For Career Advice, Women Seek Mentors Outside Their Companies


Many young women still in the early years of their careers say they can’t get the kind of mentoring they want at the office. So they’re leaving the building to find it. The quest for sage advice about work, life and balancing the two is taking more ambitious, creative women to organizations outside of their human-resources departments, such as OKREAL, which runs mentor circles in big cities including New York and San Francisco.

Amy Fraser, founder of OKREAL, says today's mentorship programs can look a lot more like group therapy than they have in the past. "I think a slightly antiquated idea of mentorship is that you find a woman 10 years your senior and you meet with her every two weeks to talk about what you're going through," Ms. Fraser says. OKREAL is rooted in the idea that women often need somewhere to talk about their changing workplace that doesn't hinge on their specific office or job. Women must apply to attend, and Ms. Fraser handpicks and curates the mentoring circles to consist of seven women whose goals and aspirations mirror each other.

Trisha Goyal, a 25-year-old product developer, was looking for a more tailored system of support and guidance as she tried to advance in her career while also pursuing other passions outside of work. She came upon OKREAL while scrolling through Instagram in 2016. "We all walked in with similar intentions," Ms. Goyal says, adding that in the office it would have been hard to open up and discuss side projects or the possibility of moving to a new company or industry. "I think the tension for everybody was either trying to figure out what they're truly passionate about and what their next move should be, whether that's career-wise, personally or a side hustle," she says.

Ms. Goyal consulted with her OKREAL circle as she worked through a job change and eventually left her position to work full time on her own business. With Ms. Fraser, she was able to freely talk without being judged. Like many young women today, Ms. Goyal says she feels pressure of balancing a growing career with side projects and a busy personal life, not always knowing how each facet of her life should mix.

— Amber Burton
First seen on Wall Street Journal