Finding and approaching a mentor can be a difficult skill to master but is essential for college students who want to expand their network.
Follow these steps to find and contact potential mentors you may be interested in learning more from:
Step 1: Assess your goals and needs
- What do you want to get out of this relationship? Personal support? Professional development? Both?
- What characteristics and qualities are you looking for in a mentor?
- What role do you want your mentor to play in your life?
- How much time do you have to devote to the relationship?
- Have you had mentors in the past? Evaluate these relationships.
Step 2: Look strategically
Mentoring opportunities can be found in a variety of areas including:
- Student clubs/organizations
- Alumni associations
- Academic and administrative departments
- Community organizations
- Professional associations/societies
- Peer recommendations
Check out the MIT MENTORSHIP DIRECTORY to see what kinds of opportunities exist for undergraduates to mentor or be mentored!
Step 3: Do your research
- Look at a person’s biography, CV, publications, LinkedIn profile
- Talk to current or former mentees of possible mentors about their personality and work style
Step 4: Make initial contact(s)
- Clearly and concisely articulate your short and long-term goals and why this person can help you achieve them (use your research from step 3!)
- Ask for a small time commitment at first, such as coffee or a short phone conversation
- Consider requesting an "informational interview." If the two of you hit it off, you can continue the relationship.
- Follow up after a week or so if you have not heard back from them.
- Be courteous and professional, and proofread any emails you send!
Step 5: Repeat!
- Sometimes potential mentors will be too busy or not interested in working with you right now. Don’t take that personally. Instead, reach out to other contacts you have gathered or ask to follow up at another time of the year.