Find your own mentor
Having a mentor gives you the chance to bounce some ideas around, to develop your soft skills and broaden your network… So why not try finding one yourself? Before reaching out to individuals we want you to consider our points below.
Food for thought
- Is location important?
- Do you have a preference around the gender of your mentor?
- Should they have experience in a particular organisation?
- Would you prefer for them to be senior or a recent graduate?
- Would you like their academic background to be the same as yours?
- What are you hoping to achieve by getting a mentor?
Try to avoid approaching people who are already within your network. Look outside of your department and away from lecturers that you already know. What companies are based on campus, in Reading, London, the UK, Europe…? Can you tap in to any research groups? Are you involved with a charity or sports group that you could approach? Get creative with your thinking and consider your options
What characteristics do you value?
- Do you want a mentor who will be nurturing and provide gentle feedback?
- Would you prefer it if your mentor was upfront about your development and provided constructive criticism openly? How would you feel if you received feedback in this way?
- Do you want to keep things strictly professional rather than get to know things about them outside of work?
- Would you like your partnership to have more of a ‘friendly’ feel?
What about their work ethic: are they completely job-focused, or do they leave their job at the door at the end of the day?
Maybe there are more characteristics that you would value – what would they be for you?
Making first contact.
Introduce yourself via email being mindful of your formality. Be professional but conversational. Start with a few specific questions which show an interest in their experience and ask for a specific piece of advice. You may even want to suggest a telephone conversation or a meeting to explore things further. This will lead conversation neatly. Once you receive feedback on your initial question you can then add in more and develop things from there.
LinkedIn is a brilliant tool to approach potential mentors so get yourself a profile set up. If you’re not yet on LinkedIn you may want to review company websites for potential contacts, but we highly recommend getting an account.
Don’t be afraid to contact more than one person at one time.
Whenever you receive a response from a potential mentor you must ensure that you reply. Even if you are already working with someone else, acknowledging them is polite and professional. Not replying can be damaging to your reputation and you don’t want to create a negative image of yourself before you begin building your contacts.
If you’re struggling to find your own mentor, the team can help. Get in touch with us and we will organise a time to pull your ideas together and help to point you in the right direction.
You can reach us on email@example.com or call us on 0118 378 8359. If you’d like to pop in for a chat, we’re in Careers (first floor Carrington Building).