If you are close to the finish line for earning your degree, chances are you’re beginning to consider your next move. If you haven’t already, now is the time to find a career mentor. A mentor can help you navigate the next step on your path by providing inspiration and motivation, answering your questions, and helping you learn how to create measurable goals. Finding a mentor is easier than you might think.
Decide What You Need
Before you begin your search for a career mentor, you must decide what you want and need from one. Naturally, you need someone who is interested in mentoring you, but there are other considerations as well. Most importantly, you’ll need to decide whether you want a general mentor or someone who works in a specific field in your industry. You’ll also need to decide what you hope to gain from the mentorship, whether you want a strictly professional relationship or someone who feels like a friend, and whether it is important to have a local mentor who you can meet in person. These decisions will help you narrow down your choices regarding where to begin your search.
Begin a Preliminary Search
Once you know the type of person you’re looking for, you can begin a broad search. Start with your personal networks, such as supervisors, professors, or family members or friends who are in the same field. If nobody is suitable within your network, widen your search. Use Google and LinkedIn to find people who are at the top of your chosen field, browse the membership list of associations related to your career path, or even look at your university’s alumni directory.
Research Potential Mentors
Find out more about the people you feel would be the best fit for you. Use Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to find relevant information about their educations, career paths, skillsets, and even interests outside of career choice that you may have in common. Remember to look for both positive and negative information. Someone may look like a good fit at first glance but have a less-than-stellar background that could do your resume more harm than good. Don’t forget to create a list of questions for those who you intend to contact. Showing specific interest is beneficial when searching for a mentor.
Contact Those Who Would Be the Best Fit
This is the most important part of your search, so be sure to follow etiquette guidelines. Starting with the person who interests you most, contact only one or two at a time to prevent becoming overloaded with responses or prematurely committing to a mentor. Begin with a formal, polite email that introduces yourself. Use a succinct subject line that describes what the email is about and use the body to provide a quick overview of who you are and why you are contacting the person. Always address the person formally and never be demanding. Be patient, waiting 24-48 hours for a response before moving on to someone else on your list.
Think Outside the Box
Many times, you’ll find a mentor by using the methods above. However, sometimes people are simply too busy to take on a new mentee, or sometimes you just don’t find anybody who piques your interest. Luckily, there are other options. In fact, new programs that connect mentors and mentees pop up often. You can search for a local recommendation, ask other people for suggestions, or search Google for a national mentorship service. Your fraternity or sorority may also have a mentorship program. One such program is the Sigma Chi mentorship program, which focuses on matching successful transformational leaders with the leaders of tomorrow.
Whether you intend to work in information technology, medicine, the arts, or any other field, nearly everybody can benefit from building a relationship with a career mentor. Begin your search now to start creating your business network and learning behind-the-scenes information about your chosen field.