How to Find a Great Mentor

Published: Jan 09, 2024

 Career Readiness       Work Relationships       
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Every January, we celebrate National Mentoring Month. Professional mentors are there to help guide you through your career, achieve your goals, and realize your full potential. If you don’t already have a professional mentor you might be wondering how to go about establishing a mentor-mentee relationship, and today we’re going to show you how to do just that. Let’s begin.

The very first thing you should do is take note of your goals. What are you looking to accomplish in your career in the next six months? How about the next ten years? Are you happy in your current career, or would you like to make a change? Ask yourself questions like these, and make a list of goals you’d like to achieve in your career. Then, separate your goals into short-term and long-term categories. When setting goals, it’s important to remember that smaller, easily-achievable goals are great for staying motivated.

Now that you’ve identified your career goals, it’s time to find some role models. Are there any professionals in your field that you admire? What did their career path look like? What are some of their greatest achievements? Along with this, identify companies that you admire, whether it’s for their mission and values, or for their contributions to society. With these things in mind, you can create a pathway forward while having your own morals and values to stand by.

You can look to your role models as potential mentors, but it’s quite possible that a great mentor is even closer than you might think. Take some time to comb through your professional network while keeping your goals and values in mind, and identify any potential mentors that are either direct connections, or individuals you can reach through another member of your professional network.

Before you reach out to a potential mentor, you should learn as much as you can about them. If they have their own website, take a look at the “about” section, or check out their social media profiles. In addition to knowing their achievements and career path, you should try to get an idea of who they are as a person. Do their values align with your own? Do you share common interests and morals? It’s important to make sure a potential mentor is a good fit—if a mentor and a mentee can relate to one another, the likelihood of success for both individuals is much higher.

In most cases, it’s best to have at least some interactions with a potential mentor before you make the big ask. This can be as simple as a few social media interactions or an email exchange, but you may also find yourself speaking with a potential mentor on the phone or on virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom. The bottom line is, take your time. You may have your heart set on a mentor without even speaking to them, only to learn that they’re not a good fit during your first serious interaction.

Similar to making a new network connection, one of the best ways to reach out to a potential mentor is through email. In your email, you want to be professional and respectful, while mentioning your goals and the reasons why you admire them and think they’d make a great mentor for you. Here is an example email to work off of:

Subject: Request for Mentorship and Guidance

Dear [Name of Mentor],

I hope this email finds you well. My name is [Your Name], and I am [Provide a brief introduction that provides information about the current state of your career]. I came across your profile on [Name of Platform] and I am truly impressed with your expertise and accomplishments.

I would like to express my admiration for your work and inquire about the possibility of establishing a mentor-mentee relationship. Your journey and success in [Include specific examples gained through your research] align closely with my career goals, and I believe your insights and guidance could be incredibly valuable to my professional development.

I understand that your time is valuable, and I would be more than willing to work around your schedule. I am available to connect via email, virtual meetings, or your preferred method of communication, and I am committed to creating a mutually beneficial mentorship.

I have prepared a list of questions and topics I would like to discuss with you, including [Provide specific topics and questions]; however, I am also open to any guidance or advice you may offer based on your own experience.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to the possibility of connecting in the future and learning from your valuable insights.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

[Your Contact Information]

Depending on your career path and your industry, your email might look very different. In any case, follow the same philosophy of the above example by introducing yourself, mentioning the reasons why you admire the person, and thanking them for their time. It’s important to remember that the person you are attempting to connect with is likely busy, so it may take some time to get a response.

The possibility exists that the person in question will decline your offer for a mentor-mentee relationship. If this is the case, respond with a simple thank you email. The goal is to maintain professionalism regardless of the outcome, as you never know when the person’s circumstances might change. In the near future we’ll talk about how to maintain a good mentor-mentee relationship once you’ve established one, so be sure to check back often.