May 27, 2022

7 Steps to Finding a Mentor

By B&SC Career Services Team

7 Steps to Finding a Mentor

The road toward your ultimate career goal is rarely a straight and narrow path. You can expect speed bumps, diversions, roadside attractions, and construction zones along the way. As you navigate your life as a professional, you should seek guidance from those who have gone before you. Other professionals in your industry can assist you as you consider new opportunities or navigate the challenges you may face in your field. By developing a relationship with a trusted mentor, you will feel more confident as you traverse your career path.

What is a Mentor and Why Are They Valuable?

A mentor is an individual willing to offer guidance, feedback and expertise in a specific industry so they can help others with professional development. Professional mentorship programs are becoming more popular as the value of this relationship continues to be proven time and time again.

According to Indeed.com, there are many benefits to having a mentor. As they are typically involved in the same field as you, a mentor is often able to connect you to relevant professional opportunities. In addition, a good mentor works actively to build a relationship with you, which means they can answer questions and provide guidance on both personal and professional issues. A mentor is the person you can turn to when you need someone to look over your resume, when you want to do a mock interview, or when you need someone to provide honest feedback about your skill set.

Seven Key Steps to Finding a Mentor

You must be intentional as you seek out an individual to mentor you. According to The Muse, there are several key steps you should take to find a mentor who is best suited to the role.

1. Understand Your Personal and Professional Goals

To have an effective mentor relationship, you need to be committed to developing the relationship. Likewise, your chosen mentor is going to invest their time and resources into you. Therefore, it’s important to have an understanding of your personal and professional goals before you try to build a mentor-mentee relationship.

You don’t necessarily need to know the position you would like to have in 15 years. Rather, it’s important that you identify what field you are interested in and what types of positions would work well for your educational background, professional skill set, and personality. You should take the time to do some soul-searching and come up with a concrete idea of your short- and long-term goals[1] . Then you can begin the process of seeking out a mentor with expertise in those areas who can help you along the way.

2. Begin Searching for the Right Person

Once you decide to seek the help of a mentor, start your search immediately. A good place to start is within your own community. For example, if you are still enrolled in college classes and are not going to graduate for another year or two, consider looking for a mentor among the professors, instructors, graduate students, and internship program coordinators at your school. If you are a young professional, you can look for a mentor among the leaders within your organization.

You also may want to consider searching LinkedIn or other social media channels for prospective mentors who would be willing to guide you. As you search for a mentor, look for someone who is a role model-someone you aspire to be like. Take time to get to know potential mentors’ strengths and weaknesses before you make a final selection, because you want this to be a good fit for both of you.

3. Ask for a Meeting

One of the most important steps you will take in your search for a mentor is asking for the initial meeting. According to the Harvard Business Review, only 37 percent of professionals actually have a mentor-and that’s largely because many are simply too afraid to ask to meet with someone who could potentially help them along the way.

It can be intimidating to ask someone to meet with you to consider a mentorship program but remember that every leader in your chosen field has had to work their way up. They understand what it’s like to develop a fledgling career. The best way to ask for a first meeting is to send a short, simple, and professional email stating your goals and intentions.

During your initial meeting, you need to be prepared to explain why you are looking for a mentor and what you hope to gain from the relationship. You also should be able to identify your goals and the type of assistance you are seeking.

4. Evaluate the Meeting

After you’ve had a chat with your prospective mentor, you will want to take some time to reflect on how well the meeting went. A mentorship is akin to other relationships that you have in your life. The two of you need to be able to get along on both a personal and professional level. Your mentor should have the skills and experience needed to help you accomplish your identified goals. Before you continue to pursue the relationship, make sure this is the right mentor for the job.

5. Follow-up with Your New Mentor

If it feels like a good fit, follow up with your new mentor in the coming days and weeks. It is important to keep the relationship growing, particularly at the beginning stage of the mentorship. Consider sending a quick e-mail or text message in the days after the meeting to say thank you. After a couple weeks, ask to schedule another meeting-particularly if you have specific questions or guidance that you require.

6. Deepen the Relationship

Deepen your relationship with your mentor by nurturing it in the weeks and months ahead. Keep your mentor informed of your progress, particularly if you score a promotion or land a new job. Conversely, you can offer to assist them. As with any relationship, there should always be some give and take.

7. Express Gratitude

Don’t forget to say thank you for the hard work and effort that your mentor is putting into you and your career. A handwritten thank you note goes a long way toward making someone feel appreciated for helping you on your journey.

You don’t have to wait until you are five or seven years into your career to find a mentor to help guide you. In fact, the sooner that you find a mentor with expertise in your field, the better off you will be. Many college students find a mentor who can offer them feedback throughout their university career and into the first stages of their professional lives.

Ready to advance your career by advancing your education? With degrees in healthcare, business, human and legal services, education, and more – we have the degree for you. Contact Bryant & Stratton College to get started today.

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