The PLC Mentor Program is an opportunity for current students to create professional relationships with alumni and supporters of the program. This page serves as a framing mechanism and resource for students to take advantage of the PLC network.

Why Should I Seek a Mentor?

Relationships are integral to both personal and professional success. Mentor relationships provide students a great opportunity to spend time on future career planning and learning from someone who has experienced the transitions you are about to embark on. Building your own personal advisory board gives you a team of trusted advisers who can serve as a sounding board for decisions, provide you a gut check, and support your growth.

How Should I Get Started?

Often the most difficult part of initiating mentor relationships is figuring out where to start. The first thing to keep in mind is it takes time to build a relationship. The process of finding a mentor or individual to serve on your personal advisory board is kind of like dating. You do not have to commit to a long relationship before you even meet! The first meeting is an opportunity for you to meet and get to know one another.

Below are suggestions of steps and resources you can use when looking for a mentor:

This is a crucial first step to take. Typically, students think that a mentor needs to be the type of person they want to be in the future. Unfortunately, this is not a feasible approach to take when building mentorship relationships. Mentors can be in your field of interest, but it is also beneficial to seek relationships with people who can give you broader perspective. Therefore, it is good to start by identifying the fields you are interested in. However, also note your strengths and weaknesses to seek mentors who can help build on your strengths and fill in the gaps of your weaknesses.

An easy place to begin building your network is the PLC Mentor Program! Various alumni and community supporters have volunteered to be resources for you. Browse the profiles and search for people who work in one of your interest areas, offered advice that resonated with you, or may be able to build on a strength or work on one of your weaknesses. Clearly identify what it is you want to learn from the people you are reaching out to. That way if you find in the first meeting it is not a fit, you can ask if they know anyone who may be able to help you.

At this point remember your first point of contact is not a long-term commitment. Your first communication with a potential mentor should be short, concise, and make it easy for them to engage with you. Once you are clear about why you are reaching out to them, this is an easy step. Click the button below to view a sample email:

Example of Initial Email

A few things to note from the example email:

  1. It is clear in the first section what about the mentor’s profile was interesting to the student (the advice offered about consulting).
  2. The section where you introduce yourself is important because it tells the mentor what you are about and helps them consider how they can help you. Highlight important parts of your past (background, family), present (major, involvement) and aspirations. It is not a place to recite your resume and should be related to your inquiry.
  3. There was no “ask” to be a mentor. This is something to consider after you meet.

Remember you are in the driver seat of the relationship. It is up to you to follow up with the mentor if they have not responded. Also, be sure to send a confirmation email a day or two before your scheduled meeting. An example of each type of email is contained in the links below:

Example of a No Response Follow Up Email

Example Meeting Confirmation Email

  • As you can see in the email samples, the student has done research on the organization the mentor is a part of and is planning on pulling that into the conversation.
  • Read what you can about the person and prepare a rough agenda for yourself.
  • Start the meeting by going over the agenda and seeing if that sounds good to the other person. This shows that you are prepared and assures that you can get what you are looking for from the first conversation.
  • An example framing to the conversation can be found at the link below:

Framing the Conversation Example

  • One more recommendation is to politely interrupt the person when there is five minutes left with something like, “since we have about 5 minutes left maybe we can spend the rest of the time identifying next steps.”
  • It is important at this point to consider if this is someone you could see being a mentor or want to learn more from. If so, outline next steps around communication norms and how frequently you’d like to talk. If not, thank them for their time and maybe ask if they know someone else you could talk to about what you are looking for.

This is the most important step. Within 48 hours follow up with an email thanking the person for their time and identifying the next steps. An example can be found by clicking the link below:

Sample Follow Up Email

  • After your first conversation send the mentor a LinkedIn request to keep in touch with them and their career path.
  • Also, take a moment after each conversation to take note of what you learned and talked about so if you do want to follow up you know where to start.
  • Some reflection questions to think about include: What did you learn? What did you like/dislike about the industry? How did you do conducting the interview? How well did you prepare? Did you get the information you wanted? What else do you still want to know? What can you do differently for the next mentor conversation?

Additional Resources

Building mentor relationships is something that will become more natural the more you work at it. Be sure to start by reaching out to various people in the PLC network because you will learn something new from each relationship you initiate. Below is a list of more resources you can consult during the process:

  • Building Connections (CU Career Services)
    • There is information on this website about how to take advantage of networking, informational interviewing, and LinkedIn for your professional development.
  • An 18-Step Checklist to Engage Mentors and Funders (Unreasonable Institute)
    • This 18-Step checklist is a framework called Build Strong Friends. The steps under “Build” outline what to do before a meeting. “Strong” outlines what to do during the meeting and “Friends” outlines what to do after the meeting.
  • Articles About Mentoring Relationships
    • Various websites have more information and recommendations about how to manage mentor relationships. Some include Forbes (about the mentor relationship), Forbes (sample questions for a mentor), University of Washington, and Verge.