A mentor is instrumental to your career development.

A good mentor provides advice and insight to help you develop you professional skills and advance to the next level. But first, you have to find one. Not sure where to start looking? Well, the good news is: they can be anywhere! That said, don’t reach out to just anyone.

As you begin your search, consider the following tips:

 

  • Don’t Go Straight to the CEO. Glassdoor advises that unless you know top company leaders personally, it’s better to aim a little lower at first. Consider managers one to two levels above you, or even coworkers.
  • Seek Out Someone Admired By Others. If you’re new the company, keep your ears open to hear about leaders or peers whom your coworkers admire and respect.
  • Pinpoint the Specific Skills You Want to Work on. If you want general advice about how to navigate the corporate ladder, look for someone who’s been at your company for a while. If you want to work on your presentation skills, find a coworker who is awesome at meetings.
  • See if Your Company Has a Corporate Mentoring Program. Forbes points out that many larger corporations, like General Mills, Time Warner, and Cisco have built-in mentorship programs. Check with your human resources department to see if that’s an option in your company.
  • Go Outside of Your Office. The right mentor for you might not work where you do. Check out industry networking events, professional associations and conferences, or LinkedIn for potential mentors.
  • Be Patient and Persistent. Entrepreneur warns that finding your career mentor may be a long process, but advises you to actively look and engage people. Start with coffee dates until you find someone you want to meet with regularly.
  • Let Your Gut Guide You. In addition to having the professional skills and experience you desire, you should also like your mentor on a personal level. Find someone whose communication style complements yours. This will make the relationship more fun and fulfilling for both of you.

 

How to Ask Someone to Be Your Mentor

First of all, recognize that you don’t have to make it a formal proposal. Some mentoring relationships happen naturally, over time, without an expressed label. That said, sometimes it can be beneficial to make it official. By formally asking someone to be your mentor, you can set expectations for the mutual relationship together.

 

  • Start By Explaining Why You Want This Person to Be Your Mentor. Establish rapport by calling out any specific skills or experience you admire, and how these relate to your career ambitions.
  • Mutually Agree on a Meeting Schedule. Be respectful of your new mentor’s time. Find a day, duration, and frequency for your meetings that fits both of your schedules.
  • Establish Guidelines Around As-Needed Contact. If you need help or advice before your next scheduled meeting, you may want to email or call your mentor. Make sure that’s okay.

 

Ideally, the person you choose will become a friend as well as a mentor, and you’ll be in regular contact. But until that relationship is established, setting some boundaries will help each of you know what to expect in the short term. In the long term, the benefits of a good mentoring relationship far outweigh the potential awkwardness of asking someone to by your mentor. Now, go out and find one!

 

This is the second post in a four-part series on mentorship in celebration of National Mentoring Month. Related posts:

 

The Career Center’s mission is to empower students and alumni to proactively manage their careers and make meaningful, and effective, career decisions.

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