A mentor can have a large impact on a student both personally and professionally. Mentors can help their charges navigate their desired industries, make connections for future jobs and internships, and serve as a sounding board for their ideas. For those college students who are still unsure about the direction they want to take with their degrees, a mentor can also provide invaluable advice and support for their academic future. A successful pairing can create a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship, so finding a mentor should be a top priority for college students. Unsure about how to find a mentor? Check out our tips!

What is a Mentor and Why Do I Need One?

Understanding the mentor/mentee relationship is a critical first step for choosing one. You must ask yourself what you want to gain out of your mentorship. Do you want a foot in the door of the industry you’re interested in? Do you need help finding internship opportunities? Do you need someone to ask for advice about your career? A mentor can help. Still not convinced? Check out this oldie but goodie, Why Having a Mentor in College is So Important.

Where Can I Find a Mentor?

There isn’t a magic formula to finding the perfect mentor. He or she can be a professor, older student, industry professional, or just anyone you admire who can offer useful advice for you. The most effective method to finding a mentor is by simply putting yourself out there. Try attending a networking event on campus, connecting with alumni, or asking your boss to chat over a cup of coffee. Spending time learning about the individual and their professional strength and weaknesses can help you to decide if a relationship is the right fit. For a virtual relationship, check out LinkedIn Career Advice, a simple way to connect with professionals in or outside of your network and ask career-related questions.

How Do I Ask Someone to be My Mentor?

For the lucky few with mentorship programs on campus, this isn’t a problem for you. But for those who want to find a mentor off campus or through a nontraditional channel, finding the courage to ask someone can be daunting. The words, “will you be my mentor” seem a little awkward, but letting the relationship form naturally by first asking for specific advice might do the trick. Still stuck on how to initiate the relationship? Read The Rules: How to ask someone to be your mentor.

How Can I Utilize My Time With My Mentor?

Don’t be a passive mentee; in order to make your relationship work, you need to develop both short- and long-term goals, actively communicate, and schedule meetings. Respect your mentor’s time and prior work or family commitments by finding a schedule that works best for you and sticking to it. Whether it be a monthly chat over Skype, weekly phone call, or periodic coffee meeting, determining a method of communication early on will help to create a routine. Remember that mentoring is not one-sided; the majority of responsibility should fall on the mentee to suggest communication methods, frequency of meetings, and diversity of activities. Check out these 8 Tips for an Amazing Mentor Relationship for more advice.

What Questions Should I Ask My mentor?

While the purpose of your mentor relationship is specific to your career goals and interests, a mentor can also help you to revise your resume and cover letters, recommend a professional society or student organization to join, or provide feedback for your portfolio. You can start the conversation by asking your mentor about their career path and how they landed their current job. Be prepared for your next meeting with your mentor with these 40 Questions to Ask a Mentor.

Author: Rachel Ventresca, NSCS Marketing Intern