A Guide to Finding a Mentor
Many people seek a mentor after they start working to gain advice on things like how to progress in their career from someone with experience. However, it often makes sense to find a mentor while you’re still at university. You can turn to your mentor when you need to make a big decision or if you just want to ensure that you’re on track to meet your career goals. The important thing is to find a mentor who’s right for you.
1. Identify the Qualities You Want in a Mentor
Of course, you should admire the person you choose to be your mentor, but you may want someone who also possesses certain qualities. A great listener, empathy, and knowledge of how to impart wisdom are all important.
On the flip side, something that is rarely important is age. Anyone who has relevant life experience can be a mentor — it’s not necessary for your mentor to have worked in a particular career for decades nor to be a minimum number of years older than you.
2. Find Someone with the Right Background
The best mentors have faced their own share of challenges — and they’ve often failed just as much as they have succeeded. It’s ideal to choose someone who has dealt with many of the issues that you are either going through now or are likely to face in the future. For these reasons, a former professor or supervisor is often a great choice. Choosing a current manager could be problematic, though, because of conflicts of interest. Similarly, a close friend is rarely the right choice because it’s helpful to keep your personal life separate.
3. Consider Several Possible Mentors
Be prepared to take your time to find the ideal candidate for a mentor. Someone could look great on paper — but if you don’t feel a connection, it won’t work out. It’s crucial that you feel comfortable talking to your mentor about any doubts you’re having and that you embrace the advice you receive. You may need to have conversations with a few different people (and on a few different occasions) before you feel like you’ve found a suitable match.
4. Develop Your Relationship First
Choosing someone to be your mentor is a big deal. Take things slowly to ensure you’re making the right choice by first developing a relationship with the person. For instance, if you have a professor in mind, you could sign up for office hours more frequently, apply for a research assistant position, or even go for coffee to talk about your shared interests.
Once you have a deeper connection, you’ll need to ask if the person would be interested in mentoring you and explain exactly what you’re looking for. You can then arrange to have regular meetings going forward — anywhere from twice a week to once a month can be ideal, depending on your needs and your mentor’s availability.
Another way you can set yourself up for success after you graduate is to learn how to live independently. You can find apartments near Carleton University at The Revalie. Our luxury student housing has everything you need on site, including The Studio (where you can work on media projects), The Clubhouse (where you can socialize with other students), and a state-of-the-art fitness centre. Apply now to gain access to these and other exclusive amenities.