two men talkingWhether it’s someone who offers great advice, helps you accomplish your goals or is there to talk things out, a mentor can be a powerful presence in your journey at CU Boulder and beyond. If you’re looking for a mentor, it can sometimes feel challenging to know where to start or how to ask. Here are some tips to help you find a mentor.

Start with why

What are you looking for in a mentor? Mentors can serve different purposes and can direct you in different ways. Knowing what you hope to get out of a mentorship before you begin searching can be helpful. Start out by thinking about what you want to learn. Maybe it’s help figuring out plans with your area of study, or seeking guidance with internship opportunities or career plans after graduation. 

Consider people you already know

Most mentors don’t come from formal programs, and you likely don’t have to search too far for a mentor. In fact, mentors can often be people you already know.

Consider family members or people you know in leadership positions. Are there people who you admire? Are there people on the path you want to be on? Think about people at your job, coaches from team sports, professors or TAs, and other connections. Create a list of potential mentors and write down some reasons why each person is of interest to you.

Make the pitch

Some mentorships happen so organically, you won’t even know when they started. You might find yourself regularly meeting with someone and taking their advice on your projects, academics or professional opportunities.

However, you may also have to ask someone directly to be your mentor. If that’s the case, make sure you’re clear on why you think they’ll be a good mentor for you and what you expect of your mentorship. Ask them in-person rather than over email, and be thoughtful and intentional in asking for their support. The more your mentor understands your goals, the better they can support you. For example, if you are looking for an internship in a particular field, your mentor could help you adapt your resume, practice interview questions or maybe introduce you to connections at a company that’s hiring.

Put in effort

When it comes to mentoring, think of it as a partnership. Don’t try to find a mentor by thinking only about what you can get out of it. Mentorship isn’t something you get – it’s something you do. Make sure to check in, put in effort and express gratitude for their support.

Don’t force it

Finding a mentor should be like other friendships you build – if you have to force it, it’s probably not sustainable. If it’s difficult to strike up a conversation or find shared interests, it may be best to look elsewhere. Mentors are most valuable when you can connect with them naturally. Even if you admire someone and they have similar passions or experience, it doesn’t mean they’re a good mentor match for you. 

Another common issue is time. If you don’t have time for your mentor or they don’t have time for you, it might be best to look elsewhere or make a plan for when schedules free up. 

Potential mentors are all around you and you have what it takes to find one. Once you find the right mentor, you’ll know, and the benefits will help propel you now and in the future. For more tips on finding a mentor, meet with a career development advisor. Stop by our drop-in hours Monday – Thursday from 12-4 p.m., or make an appointment through Handshake.