A professional mentor can provide guidance and wisdom that significantly benefits your career. This person does not need to be in the same field! You only want someone with experience in the professional world to coach you in your career path. But how do you know who is going to be the right mentor for you? Today we’re sharing how to find a career mentor from where to look to who you should choose.
Where to look
There are a multitude of places to look for career mentors. This includes older alumni from your alma mater(s), neighbors, other members of your church, or other community organizations. You would be surprised at how many people are willing to help someone out and share knowledge from their professional experiences. In general, it is best to avoid asking someone you work with to be your mentor. Mentorship from current coworkers can muddy the waters, so look outside your current organization!
How to look
The internet provides plenty of resources for finding a mentor. The most effective social media site to discover a mentor is LinkedIn. Search for people in your area with experience in similar fields to what you are pursuing. Using university pages, you can search by degree and find other people on LinkedIn that graduated in the same area of study. Check with your alumni resources at your previous places of education, whether high school, college, trade school, or grad school.
Most importantly, speak with people you know and with whom you are already connected. Did you have a professor you respected in college? Did a friend’s family member always seem to make wise career choices? Reach out to these people and ask for a mentor-mentee relationship!
Who to choose
How do you know that you are choosing the right mentor? It is essential to choose someone who can help you specifically in your career path. If part of your identity is underrepresented in your field, find someone who is also a part of your demographic in that field (i.e., Women in STEM). They can speak to that specific experience and guide you in ways to stand out from the typical person in that field. A mentor-mentee relationship does not (by any means!) have to be lifelong. Sometimes it only lasts a few months. It is ok to work with someone and realize it’s not a great fit. Find someone you are comfortable with who can maintain a professional relationship with you while guiding you in our goals.
If you’re ready to contact someone, check out this NPR article about how to seek someone out, ask them to mentor you, and keep it professional.