Some of the mentors are surprisingly well known. For $130 an hour, an aspiring writer can be mentored by Ethan Watters, a magazine writer and author of the 2004 book “Urban Tribes.” Click on “DJ” at PivotPlanet and you’ll find Cut Chemist, charging $180 an hour. He was a member of the rap group Jurassic 5, and his music has been featured in Apple advertisements and in the movie “Up in the Air.”
Then there’s “coffeehouse owner,” with only one mentor listed: Duncan Goodall of New Haven, at $180 an hour.
“The money is nice, but that’s not the real reason I do this,” Mr. Goodall, who is 41, told me when I visited him at Koffee on Audubon. “I enjoy teaching, and on a deep philosophical level, I believe people are more happy and free if they have their own business.”
The Times has a story about people who want to switch to a new career but want to test the waters before doing so by shadowing a mentor in the field they want to go into. The story focuses on services people pay for to connect with someone established in the field. I can understand why someone would pay for such a service: If you’ve been working for a while and have a stable career, you might not want to give all of that up for a career change that may actually end up being all wrong for you, so paying some money to test the waters and spend time with an established person may be worth it to you.
I strongly believe that having a mentor is a good thing and highly valuable while building your career, but I would never accept money to mentor anyone. If you are accepting money to be a mentor, you are no longer a mentor—you are a consultant. Seek mentors, but don’t pay for them. Pay for a consultant if what you want is a consultant.
Photo: Eric Drost