Mentoring 103: How to Find a Mentor

by Nancy Ordman

Source: Nick Youngson /  CC BY-SA 3.0 

Employees of companies that do not offer formal mentorship programs need not miss out on the benefits of a mentor. Even if a formal program is available, a company might not have a program that meets an employee’s specific needs. For example, a

mentee considering switching to a different specialty or making a more radical change might not find the right mentor in a small organization. Anyone willing to do some research can identify plenty of resources, virtual and actual.

Before starting a mentor search, a mentee-to-be needs to go through the process discussed in Mentorship 101: understanding what he or she wants out of the relationship. A potential mentor will ask for details before saying yes or no.

Networking

Networking sounds like a catchall solution to everything professionals need: introductions to hiring managers, answers to questions about work projects, and so on. And an individual’s professional network could well include some great mentor candidates. A person seeking a mentor can compare her description of mentorship requirements to people in her network and target inquiries to those who look like good fits. The essence of a network is connection; a potential mentor might suggest a different person whom they think would suit the situation better.

Be open to networking not only at work and in local chapters of professional groups but also in less-expected venues. Alumni associations often help establish mentor-type relationships between graduates. Community groups can be useful, particularly for someone new to the area. Relatives – and friends of relatives – are worth asking

Professional associations

National engineering professional associations offer excellent online resources for finding mentors. Associations not on this list might offer mentoring through local chapters, so it’s worth checking their websites for additional information. 

Other Online Platforms

This handful of sites is worth a look.

LinkedIn introduced its free Career Advice feature last year. This service matches members with members. Read more on the LinkedIn blog.

Million Women Mentors focuses on working with women in STEM careers. This nonprofit enterprise has strong support from major corporations and resources in multiple fields, from industry to government to entrepreneurship.

MentorCity offers a mentoring software platform for businesses and for individuals. The service offers a free trial.

MicroMentor offers a free service, matching volunteer mentors with mentees. Budding entrepreneurs can meet up with successful entrepreneurs here.