How Do You Find a Mentor?

03/16/23 | 7 MIN READ

What is a Mentor?

A mentor is an experienced advisor who trains, teaches, and influences a younger person who often wants to lead in their footsteps. Having a mentor is highly encouraged because according to the national mentor day statistics, 97% of individuals who have a mentor say it is one of their most valuable experiences. The reason mentorship has such an impact on lives is because of what a mentor can provide. The role of a mentor is to share the experience they gained in their position with their mentee, to help them attain their goals. A mentor’s guidance might come in multiple forms. A mentor can: 

  • Help mentees reach their goals. 
  • Give performance feedback.
  • Challenge mentees
  • Ask great questions.  

Reaching your Goals 

Mentees hold their mentors in high regard and see them as role models. Since a mentor is in a position their mentee would like to be in someday, they view them as holding valuable information. A mentor will offer their mentee advice and guidance during sessions to help them chart a plan based on where they are and where they want to be. As a mentee, it is important to choose a mentor that aligns with your mission, goals, and someone whose position you can see yourself in.  

Empathetic and Honest Feedback

Great mentors allow their mentees to benefit by giving them honest feedback. In most cases a mentor will speak to their mentee using empathetic delivery or constructive criticism, it depends on what is best for the mentee. Giving feedback will help mentees see their weaknesses and grow from these situations. Likewise, a mentee will appreciate straight talk that helps them grow despite it being challenging to hear. When choosing a mentor, choose someone you trust, and whose feedback you can respond positively to. 

New Challenges and Accountability 

A mentor should encourage you to take on challenges, even ones that seem extreme to overcome. Get out of your comfort zone and choose a mentor that will hold you accountable to the challenges they give you. Similarly, you want your mentor to hold you accountable for the goals you set for yourself. Mentors are available to help us when feeling stuck or unmotivated. 

Ask Questions 

We often learn more when we think for ourselves. Picking a mentor that asks you questions might challenge and guide you. How you answer will reveal more about you, and you can use your responses to recognize growth opportunities. 

🔬Learn: Benefits of Having a Mentor

ULP Teen watching mentor at work

What is a Mentee?

A mentee, on the other hand, is a person who receives advice, training, or guidance from a more experienced or skilled mentor. A mentee will often have specific skills or competencies they want to learn from their mentor, and the mentor may spend a designated amount of time teaching them said skills. As a mentee, your role is to prepare a list of your career goals and objectives to share with your mentor. Establish with the mentor, your goals and objectives for the relationship. Assist in developing the mentoring agreement and commit to meeting with your mentor regularly. A mentee should portray characteristics like

  • Have the drive to succeed.
  • Hard-Working 
  • Time management 
  • Positive Attitude
  • Respect for Authority 
  • Open to learning 
  • Clear communication 
  • Initiative 
  • Leadership 

Knowing the role of a mentor and a mentee is important because when both ends fill their roles, the mentor and the mentee gain more from their relationship. If having a mentor sounds like something that interests you, here’s how to find one.

Types of Mentors

The best step to take is to start by identifying the kind of mentor-mentee relationship you are interested in. Knowing yourself and the types of mentors available is an integral part of your search for a mentor because it helps you see the kind of mentorship that works for you. This understanding means you are considering how you want to be mentored. Types of mentors you might meet include:

  • The Advisor
  • The Protector
  • The Coach 
  • The Connection Broker
  • The Challenger
  • The Clarifier
  • The Sponsor
  • The Affirmer

The Advisor 

An advisor mentor will direct their mentees based on their experience and expertise. Offering advice, mentees interested in an advisor are often also looking to follow the same career path. 

The Protector 

A protector mentor supports you and creates a safe environment for their mentee. Mentees interested in a protective mentor often need help figuring out the next stage of their life.

The Coach

The coach and mentor are great listeners. Due to their encouragement and ability to give constructive criticism, they are ideal for a mentee looking to overcome their problems.

The Connection Broker

The connection broker mentor will always look for growth opportunities for their mentee. If you are interested in developing a connection broker might be the best fit for you.

The Challenger 

The challenger mentor differs from a coach because they use a more “tough love” mindset to help their mentee. The challenger might work to solve problems in the mentee’s life by pushing them to solve the problem.

The Sponsor 

The sponsor mentor is similar to a protector because they too will look out for their mentee and advocate for them. A sponsor, however, differs because they sponsor their mentee who has already developed some form of independence. If a sponsor is a mentor you are interested in, they are around to help you advance into your next position or promotion.  

The Affirmer

An affirming mentor is more likely to give emotional support. They are a companion and great listeners. If you are a mentee who just needs to talk about feelings and help face situations, an affirmer might be the best mentor to choose.

From this list, it is clear that mentors have a unique strong suit that specifically works for them when giving any form of guidance the mentee needs. For that reason, you want to consider what kind of mentor style will work for you. You may have different types of goals, your aspirations may change, and you might want to accomplish something far from what you know. Depending on your unique circumstances, you could have different mentors who cater to each situation. No matter how you choose to go about it, almost anyone can be your mentor if you are a great fit, all you have to do is find them and ask.

Mentor-Mentee Programs 

You can find your mentor almost anywhere. Looking for available mentors can vary based on what you are looking to learn from this relationship and what you hope to take with you long-term. You can better understand what you are looking to gain by researching mentor-mentee programs. These programs can be found online, but if you would like a more personal experience there are also programs found in community organizations or universities. The difference between these programs looks as follows.

Online Programs

Top-rated online mentor-mentee programs you might find include:

  • Ten Thousand Coffees
  • Qooper
  • MentorcliQ
  • Together Mentoring
  • Guider

Most virtual mentoring programs are free, safe, and monitored to support an easy and accessible experience. If you are someone who desires a quick experience with mentoring, portals like these can provide you with the help you need. Please keep in mind, however, an online experience can potentially be less personal since not knowing the individual beforehand means you must invest more time in building the relationship. Even so, it might be a good source to take advantage of because it will show you what you are looking for and what you might want in a mentor. 

Community Programs 

Community mentor-mentee programs can be found in your local area. These programs might be run by universities, companies promoting outreach, or non-profit organizations. If joining a community mentor-mentee program, you want to be sure you are in one that is focused on your goals. Community programs often mean you will have access to a larger set of mentors from more diverse backgrounds. Since these types of mentor-mentee programs don’t always specify the type of mentorships being offered, mentors could be available to help with professional development, academics, or a special skill. It is vital that you understand the sort of mentors available to you and which ones can help.

Educational Programs

Education-based mentor-mentee relationships are usually around to encourage a span of different fields and lines of work. Whether these mentorship programs are designed within the university to help other students or to help the general public, a mentee can find their mentor quite easily. Many universities have school-wide based partnerships for mentoring, whether these partnerships are found in clubs, within your department/major, or a subgroup of students, academia is a powerhouse for mentorship programs because it emphasizes career development. 

💡Watch: Science of Mentorship

Students in a ULP Lab

Searching for a Match

That said, whether you are searching for a mentor yourself or going through a mentorship program, there are a few questions you should answer to be matched accordingly. As a mentee, you want to convey to yourself what kind of mentor-mentee relationship you want, and which relationship will best fit your needs. To find this specialized relationship know what kind of mentor you are looking for. Begin by interviewing yourself and using yourself as a frame of reference. Questions you might ask yourself include: 

  • What are my interests/hobbies?
  • What are your short-term goals?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • What interests you about having a mentor?
  • What areas of your life do you want to grow in?
  • What skills do you want to develop?

By preparing these questions, you can begin to understand what you are looking for in a mentor, the kind of mentorship you need, and the mentor that will help you grow. You are also benefiting from this process because these questions will help you prepare by showing your mentor you are serious about following their lead, while also learning more about yourself!

Finding a Match

After finding a mentor or being matched with a mentor, it is good to establish a relationship with your mentor. This process is the most critical because without building a relationship, they are not your mentor. The best way to build a connection is, to begin by getting to your mentor and allowing them to know you. It is good to establish trust and talk about what the mentor and the mentee expect from one another. Accomplishing this sort of bond can be addressed using a mentor-mentee agreement. 

Mentor-Mentee Agreement

A mentor-mentee agreement is a document supporting the guidelines for the foundation of the relationship. The two parties involved in writing the document can use it both as a starting point for their conversation, as well as a formal agreement. When writing a mentor-mentee agreement certain components you want to have include:

  1. Goals 
    • This will include what you hope to achieve as a result of this relationship. What will the mentor/mentee gain relative to skills necessary for successfully reaching their goals? Challenging exploration, new career opportunities/alternatives, obtaining knowledge of organizational culture, networking, and leadership skill development.
  2. Steps
    • Discuss steps to achieve goals and incorporate regular meetings, collaborative projects, and steps to achieving independence.
  3. Meeting Frequency
    • Frequency, duration, and location of meetings 
  4. Confidentiality
    • Any sensitive issues that we discuss will be held in the strictest of confidence. Issues that are off limits for discussion 
  5. Plan for Evaluating Relationship Effectiveness
    • Bi-annual review of mentorship meeting minutes, goals, and outcomes/accomplishments)
  6. Relationship Termination Clause
    • If either party finds the mentoring relationship unproductive and requests that it be terminated, we agree to honor that individual’s decision without question or blame. 
  7. Duration
    • This mentorship relationship will continue as long as both parties feel comfortable with its productivity or until
  8. Signatures
    • Have both individuals, the mentor and the mentee, sign the agreement.  

Once you have established an agreement the mentor-mentee relationship is official.

💡Learn: Mentor-Mentee Agreements 

Mentee to Mentor

The mentee-mentor relationship is a never-ending process that will always be part of society. Mentors are all around our lives; we never stop having new mentors or becoming mentors ourselves. We can all learn something new or gain wisdom from those who have more experience than us. It is a full circle and at some point, the student becomes the master.

 Two people in orange panda shirts



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