I have few regrets from my days an undergraduate student— the one that I do have, however, is not actively seeking a mentor of my own. Theoretically, I knew all about mentoring relationships from reading about Dumbledore and Harry. However, I drastically underestimated the role of a mentor in my own life. Do not repeat my mistake; find yourself a mentor ASAP.
Here are some guidelines for obtaining and maintaining a mentor.
- Where do I get a mentor?
- You probably already have someone who unofficially serves as your mentor. If this is your situation, I strongly suggest you define the relationship (DTR) with individual. Let them know the positive impact they have had on your career development and why you want to keep things going. Without the DTR conversation, it can be difficult to maintain a mentoring relationship once you’re no longer in the same location.
- Jenna, I don’t have someone in this role. What do I do?
- There are many ways that one procures a mentor. Many professional associations offer established mentoring programs. If you don’t know where your career might take you, be on the lookout for people with the traits listed below and take the dive. You might meet these individuals at work, at conferences, on-campus, or networking nights.
- What are some traits of a good mentor?
- More advanced in their career development stage than you
- Willing and excited to mentor you
- Available for conversation, however you agree to in your DTR conversation
- Shares similar identities as you so that they can better understand your experiences, work environment, and socialization
- So now what?
- In the beginning, many mentoring relationships start off with informational interviewing so that both parties can have a better understanding of each other, what the needs are, and if your career experiences and hopes align. From there, it is all up to the two of you to decide how best to communicate, how often, what topics are open to discussion, and which ones are not.
Jenna Matsumura, Career Center Graduate Assistant