Help Me Find a Mentor: The Key Preparation Step That Many Students Miss
And now, please welcome back our guest blogger, Alfredo Gutierrez, with Part 2 in his series of tips on finding and approaching mentors. Here’s his previous post, in case you missed it, and here’s the next post in the series.
II. Finding Your Interests
On paper, the process of finding a mentor seems straightforward. Figure out who you want as your mentor, make the ask, and maintain that relationship. But there’s another step that should come before all that: beginning to get an idea of what you’re interested in.
It’s important both for you and for your mentor that you have an idea of what it is you want from the relationship. Whether it’s getting a glimpse into their workday, getting advice, or trying to figure out more exactly what it is you want, your interests are very important in a mentorship relationship.
This doesn’t necessarily mean, “Know what career you want to go into.” Instead it means that it’s good to have a couple of different paths you might want to go down, or have a couple of subjects you want to learn more about, or a technical skill you want to learn. I found my interest in literature really early on. When I realized I really liked writing stories, it was easier to approach my creative writing professor. By having an interest in mind when I began talking regularly with my professor, it allowed both of us to focus on what mattered.
If you don’t have a big, specific interest in mind, that’s fine! A good way to begin to figure out your interest is to ask yourself what you enjoy doing: maybe it’s writing, or making things, or playing basketball. If you don’t have an immediate answer, ask yourself what you want to explore, and try it! Maybe you’ve always wanted to mess around with circuits, or play soccer – this is an excellent chance to begin to figure out what gets you excited.
So my second tip is: try to figure out a couple of things that get you really excited.
I’m not talking about things that are exciting to watch other people do, but something that you actually find exciting to do yourself. Having these interests in mind will be very helpful when talking to possible mentors.