How to Find (and Be) a Mentor

woman mentoring a student

A mentor is someone who can guide and share their experience while helping another person and is also someone who wants to see the person they mentor (the mentee) become successful. A mentor can be found in colleges, a workplace, and yes, even in your personal life. It’s important to understand what a mentor does and how this relationship may make a difference in a mentee’s life. While having a mentor may not make the mentee instantly successful, listening to their guidance and what they have been through may help. You may not realize it, but you have the potential to be a mentor or to have a mentor in your life.  

Questions to Ask Yourself if You Want to Be a Mentor

Mentoring can become a powerful tool for success, whether academically, through the workplace, or even in personal life. Here are a few questions to ask yourself with regard to being a mentor:  

Do you enjoy guiding others? 
Do you have what it takes to share your stories on how you accomplished different tasks?
Do you understand how to overcome hurdles? 
Do you know how to manage your time and put the proper priorities first? 

If you answered yes to these questions, then you would more than likely make a good mentor.  

How to Find a Mentor  

If you are new to an organization or a school, you can seek out others with more experience. Look for someone who stands out and is willing to guide you and show you the ins and outs of the company or school. Ask around for someone who is willing to shares knowledge and is relatable, someone who is willing to take you under their wing and provide guidance. Also, be sure to find out if your organization or school has a mentorship program in which you can register and receive a mentor.  

Dos and Don’ts of Mentoring

Both mentors and mentees should understand the rules of the relationship. 

Mentor

  • A mentor should never assist and give all the answers to a mentee, but instead guide them in the correct direction. 
  • The mentor will establish a guideline from the start of the relationship that includes what the mentee can expect, how often they will connect, and the method of communication.
  • If the mentor is unable to reach the mentee on multiple attempts, the mentor should reconsider the pairing.

Mentee

  • The mentee must work for their own success; the mentor is there for guidance. 
  • The mentee will need to learn from their mistakes, just as we all had to do at some point.
  • The mentee should review the guidelines set by the mentor to ensure they agree and understand the dynamics. 
  • If the mentee does not relate to the mentor, the mentee may want to consider a new mentor.  

Altman (2017) made some valid points on dos and don’ts in mentoring, including that a positive element is structure, and a negative element is when a mentor doesn’t allow the mentee to grow and learn. The mentee can improve by listening to the direction given by the mentor. The mentor must remember to never cross the structured guidelines which can consist of honesty, providing guidance instead of answers, and directing the mentee to find answers in the departments or resources supplied to help. The mentor must stay sharp and notice the signs if a mentee is trying to divert them. Both mentors and mentees will make mistakes, everyone is human. But it’s important for both parties to work together to make the mentorship work.     

A Personal Note on Mentoring

Mentoring another person has never been an easy task, however, it has rewards. It is a wonderful feeling when you have guided a mentee, and they come to you and let you know they’re doing great. Also, while the mentor sets times to speak with a mentee, it’s not uncommon for a mentor to informally reach out to the mentee throughout the week to check on how they have been doing and if the mentee has questions.  

A person should only become a mentor if they genuinely want to guide others, make an impact in someone’s life, and continue to make a difference. You may already be mentoring someone unofficially. Consider the questions about mentoring to find out if you could become one. If you are new to a college or organization, start asking how to locate a mentor. In a college it may be a student who already understands the expectations and will share their knowledge with another student to assist them in their success. If you enter into a mentorship relationship, be sure to follow the guidelines as they’re set forth. Finally, remember to let the mentor know how you are doing after the relationship, and maybe continue in their footsteps!

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Written by Machele Ruiz, MA in Organizational Management, Class of 2018, CHAMPS Mentor Coordinator

Reference

Altman, I. (2017). The dos and don’ts of mentoring.  Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ianaltman/2017/09/12/the-dos-and-donts-of-mentoring/#2130d353493c

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