If you work at a startup, receiving guidance from experienced mentors can make all the difference. 

We’ve gathered insights from four startup execs who credit mentorship as a pivotal factor in their professional journeys. From questions to ask a mentor and more, their stories can serve as examples of the power of mentorship in navigating the complexities of working at a startup.

Discovering Passion Through Hands-On Mentorship

“I learned real-world HR practices, gained exposure to various parts of HR & engaged in meetings where I learned HR challenges, best practices, and emerging trends at my university’s student worker program. I worked closely with the two HR professionals in the office and slowly gained more responsibilities while working with strong female mentors who helped me gain confidence and navigate challenges in the workplace. With their encouragement I was able to realize my passion for recruiting and training.”

Megan Martin, Talent Manager at The Engineered Innovation Group

Supervisor-Mentors: Guiding with Patience  

“I never had a formal mentor, but I did have some amazing supervisors who accelerated my learning and impact. Two local tech titans in my community, Scott Webber and Steve Ehrlich, were instrumental in my early tech career. What sticks out in retrospect was their boundless patience and willingness to spend the time to help and guide. And the nice thing about supervisors as mentors is that they have a vested interest in your success. If your supervisor isn’t up for mentoring, well…maybe go find one that is.”

Joseph Loria, Founder at RetentionworCX

Family-Inspired Mentorship: Learning Values and Business Skills

“Although I never participated in a formal mentorship program, I credit my father as my most significant mentor. As a successful business owner, he showed me the importance of personalized communication and fostering relationships with clients. He taught me the value of being present and attentive in meetings and business interactions. Through his guidance, I learned the invaluable skills of negotiation, sales tactics, and more. My father remains my inspirer, resource, and biggest support.“

Emily Finkelstein, CEO at VentureXpert Advisors

Structured Mentorship at Google: Learning from the Best

“Google has a mentorship program that pairs early-career tech professionals with experienced mentors within the company. It aims to provide guidance, support, and career development opportunities for mentees. People can join Google as a junior developer. They are then matched with a very experienced and senior employee within the company. 

These people meet regularly, both in person and virtually. Then, there are ongoing discussions around learning and improvement. The mentees are taught the best practices and coding standards, as well as mentored on soft skills. They are then introduced to mentor networks and get to meet really amazing people. This program has inspired many and has helped numerous developers grow through it.“

Brandon Rubinshtein, Founder, Howdy


These stories demonstrate the profound impact mentorship can have on your professional journey. Whether through formal mentorship programs, your direct leader at work, family members, or experienced colleagues at other companies or departments, mentorship can be a tremendous help along your path. 

At Powderkeg, we’ve written a lot about mentorship because we believe in its power. If you’re curious about finding a mentor, becoming a mentor, or helping facilitate these kinds of relationships, keep reading: 

How to Build an HR Tech Startup with Techstars, gBeta, and Business Mentors with Darrian Mikell

12 Powerful Questions to Ask a Mentor About Career Path

How to Make the Most of Mentoring

9 Ideas for Finding Great Startup Mentors and Connections (No Matter Where You Are)

Unlocking Growth: Understanding Mentoring vs Coaching and Which Strategy is Best for You

How to Find a Mentor When Working Remotely

Are You Getting These Benefits from Mentorship?

13 Entrepreneurs Share Their Mentor’s Best Advice