‘Help! My mentor blew me off and I don’t know what to do’

Ashley lutz ask the insider

Ask The Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email [email protected]
Dear Insider,

I had a call scheduled with a person whom I admire, and whose career trajectory is something I’d like to learn more about. After reaching out, she made some time for me in her schedule for a phone call. The last correspondence I had was with her assistant who asked me for my number so this person would be able to reach me, which I took to mean that she would be the one to call me.

The time for the phone call came, and the actual call did not. Since she’s doing me the favour of talking to me, I don’t want to to nudge her — maybe she is busy and will call me soon. I also do not want her to think I am the one skipping town on our call. It’s been 20 minutes — when is an appropriate time to follow up with someone who missed an appointment?

Blown off by a mentor


Dear Blown Off,

This is a tricky one. Because you were already the initiator here, you probably feel like you’re prodding if you follow up again.

But this person you admire is probably happy to talk to you. She had her assistant contact you, and was planning on the call. She’s the one who screwed up. You didn’t do anything wrong.

If I were you, I would follow up with the assistant as soon as you can and say you never received the call at the agreed-upon time. Ask to reschedule.

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If you don’t hear back, follow up again. If you STILL don’t hear back, go straight to the person whose work you admire. Reiterate that although you’ve had trouble connecting, you’d love to hear about her career trajectory. I’m sure she will schedule a new time.

If not, there are probably more reliable mentors out there.


Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to [email protected] for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.

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