How do I find a mentor? Five tips to follow

For students who are not involved in a mentor program, it may seem difficult to start a mentoring relationship. Lindsey Zapletal, assistant director for student involvement at the Penn State Alumni Association, has five valuable tips for students looking to begin a mentor relationships with alumni.

1. Begin by talking about Penn State

“I think a great place to begin a conversation with an alum is by starting with Penn State,” Zapletal said. “Alums love talking about Penn State and their experience at the University.”

2. Do your research

If you can, take a look at your potential mentor’s resume and accomplishments to kick-start the conversation. Does his career interest you? How did she get to where she is today? What are your common interests?

3. Set goals

Ask your potential mentor what he or she would like to gain from the relationship and voice your own goals, too.

4. Think it all through

This conversation must happen early in the relationship. “It begins by talking about the best ways to communicate with one another,” Zapletal said. How do you prefer to communicate? Maybe email works better than calling, or vice versa, based on you and your mentor’s goals and preferences.

5. Check in

Zapletal recommends checking in with your mentor, even if you do not have anything new to talk about. “A lot of times, these relationships become more than mentorships, but not always. It is a great idea to check in, just to find out how the person is doing and to give them an update on yourself,” she said. “Remember, this person invested time in you, so they want to know that you are doing well.”

Last Updated July 21, 2014