Searching for a Mentor/Virtual Networking

Searching for a mentor can be an overwhelming process. Being able to have insight from someone who has been in your shoes at one point is extremely beneficial to your development as an applicant and a recipient of an award. A mentor is someone you can get feedback from, learn about your industry from, and experience professional growth with. Mentors offer guidance on achieving your career goals, handling tricky work situations, which opportunities to pursue, and more all based on their experience. Do you have someone in your life doing all of those things? If not, you need a mentor!

1. Finding a mentor

As we said before, we all need mentors. So, how do you find them? First, you have to know what you're looking for. Think about your short- and long-term goals and your mentorship needs. With this in mind, you can conduct research to identify potential mentors. You'll want to include your existing network (professional, alumni, etc.) as you're thinking about who has the knowledge, expertise, and/or experience you're looking for. Once you've made a list of potential mentors, the next step is making the ask.

2. Making the ask

Asking someone to be your mentor can be intimidating. After all, what if they say no? That's a risk you'll have to take. Whether it's someone you know well or someone you don't know at all, start by sending a brief introductory email that ends with a request to meet for 30-45 minutes to talk more. You can then use that initial meeting to describe what guidance you seek, why you selected them, and the work you're willing to put in to ensure the mentoring relationship is successful. If they say no or you realize they aren't a good fit during that initial meeting, reach out to someone else on your list of potential mentors. You can't get a mentor if you never ask!

3. Attend events of interest to you

There is a great deal of online workshops, seminars, and information sessions that award offices put on in order to inform you about their opportunities for you. Attending these events online (or in person if available) is a great way to get your foot in the door with a committee or just become informed about the things available to you now and in the future. You can find out about these events through our office, a mentor, faculty you connect with, and other outlets that pertain to you. Don't miss out on a chance to expose yourself to opportunities you didn't know about in the first place!

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