Why You Need a Mentor and How to Find One

By Holly Chase - UConn

At the University of Connecticut, I am enrolled in a one credit mentorship class where I have been assigned a mentor based upon my career interests. In addition to interacting and building a relationship with our mentor, we have to complete certain assignments and reflection papers as part of our grade.One of the most important lessons I've learned so far is the sooner you start developing mentors, the better. I wish I would have started in high school. Why? Mentors can help you learn about different career paths (which could influence the school you choose to attend), internship opportunties, and provide you with candid advice that you might not receive from parents or friends. What's more, a good mentor can help provide a letter of recommendation for college applications, breaking up the monotonous teacher/guidance counselor typical recommendation reading. To get started finding a mentor, check out my 5 suggestions below:

Consider Why You Want to Have a Mentor

Are you looking for someone who can help you get an internship? Explore a new career? Or maybe help with personal advice on funding college? Through clearly understanding your intentions, you will be able to better narrow down the search field of possible mentors.

Build Relationships

Depending on your answer to the above, you can start building relationships through a face to face meeting with a teacher, a recent graduate from your high school, or a person you admire in a field you might want to study in. NextGenVest College Fellows are also here to help and be an accessible source of advice!

Do Research

When you have a potential mentor candidate in mind, do your research on him or her. You can visit their LinkedIn page, read a study or article they contributed to, or see what they care about on Twitter or Medium. Knowing more about the individual’s background or field of study will help you determine if they would align with your goals and give you more topics to discuss if you reached out to them.

Extend the Invitation

Unless you have had a long term relationship with the potential mentor, Forbes contributor Kerry Hannan says to avoid outright asking “will you be my mentor,” as that can sound overly formal and make the person feel cornered. Instead, start by asking a potential mentor if they could provide advice on a specific project through a quick phone call or meeting. Then after a few more exchanges, you can ask them more formally to be your mentor if you feel it’s appropriate.

Be a Good Mentee and Give Back 

This means providing updates, checking in, and saying thank you. Your mentor may be a very busy person so it is up to you to drive the relationship in a positive direction. Find ways you can be helpful to your mentor, whether it is with volunteer work on one of their projects or connecting them to a contact of yours - the mentor-mentee relationship will only be as good as the work put into it!

Want to help other students be smart about college, money, and careers? Text NextGenVest at 646-798-1745 saying "Hi my name is X and I would like to get invovled."