mentor, work relations, Being a Good Mentor, Career Building
CAREER / 14 December 2016
5 Tips For Finding The Perfect Mentor
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Tim Elkana

Nothing beats having a mentor. From career advice to daily motivation, a good mentor can push you in the right direction when you need it most.


In elementary school, you had your teacher and parents; in high school, it was your counselor. Now, it’s up to you to find your own.

But, how do you even find a mentor in the first place?

I know how hard how hard the process can be, so here are 5 tips that’ll help you get started:


1. Know exactly what you want.


Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. Understanding what you want will help narrow down the search. A few details to think about are end goals, relationship, and commitment. 


2. Network.


It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. The next step to finding a mentor is identifying potential mentors. This means you need to know people. And no, don’t start counting how many friends  you have in your head; instead, start networking. Chances are you aren’t already best buddies with your mentor. Get out of your apartment and grow your network. 


Look for people who have the exact job you want, personalities you can’t resist, or insights you desperately need. Find people that inspire you, motivate you, make you hungry for growth, force you out of your comfort zone, and help you become a better you.


Potential mentors can be found in all corners of your community, but there’s a few hotspots that can attract the best ones: academic clubs, interest clubs, fraternities or sororities, career centers, research labs, workspaces, startup incubators, conventions, and bookstores. After you’ve scouted out a few of these places, it’s time to start talking.



3. Build a relationship before asking for a mentorship.


Don’t ask strangers to be mentors. And just because you met your ideal mentor once at a career fair 2 years ago doesn’t mean you have a relationship with them. Like any other form of networking, start small. Hunt them down and introduce yourself - NOT as a mentee, but as a person. Strike up a conversation in person, and ask for their email or phone number. No matter how fantastic (or terrible) your initial conversation goes, always shoot them a follow-up message:

 

“Hey ___, it was great meeting you today at _____. You mentioned _____, and I’m really interested in it. Would you mind giving some advice with _____?”


More often than not, they’ll reply with what you need. From there, it’s up to you to talk about career choices, life advice, job positions, motivation techniques, weekend activities, current events, tech trends, or whatever helps grow the relationship. Once you think the bond between you and your mentor-to-be is strong enough, it’s time to ask for a mentorship.



4. Give back value.


Think about what value you can provide to the relationship. As a mentee, you need something the mentor has, whether it’s knowledge or advice. Don’t take without giving back; what can you do to help out your mentor? I’ve narrowed it down to 2 things:


5. Respect your mentor.


Remember: you’re asking someone to do you a favor by being a mentor. You need to be the best mentee possible and respect their time. If you cancel coffee with them for the third time this month, they won’t be so happy. Mentors are people too, and treating them with the same respect as you treat your friends is important. Also, every mentor is different. Some might not want to grab lunch with you, some might ask for weekly updates, and some might not reply to texts after 8 PM. Learn to be flexible - it’s part of growth and highlights your commitment to the relationship. 

Of course, finding a mentor and learning how to navigate the relationship is a lot more complicated than a list of tips. You really won’t know who the next person to impact your life will be, and hopefully, you’ll take on that role for someone else. If you want to learn more, find out for yourself. Head to a club meeting, network with a few people, and start building relationships.