There are many blog posts and articles that already cover the importance of finding a mentor, so this month’s post is going to focus on how you can start the search for a mentor. I personally have multiple mentors that make up my personal board of directors! These mentors varies in gender, career stage, background, and more as I enjoy getting advice from a diverse background of folks and have used a combination of their advice and experience to pave my own career journey so far.
Here are 4 places to start your search for a mentor:
1. School’s Alumni Association
Regardless if you are still in school or have already graduated, your school’s alumni association is a great place to start the search for a mentor. They have been in similar if not the same classes as you, know the professors/teachers and can also let you know about opportunities that are unique to your school! I personally learned from my mentor when I was in my 2nd year of college about the BS/MS Accelerated Degree program and they encouraged me to apply for it once I had the minimum number of credits completed.
For those reading this that are current Drexel Students or Alumni, you can connect with fellow alumni/students on Dragon Network at https://dragonnetwork.drexel.edu/?referral=12736607.
2. Professional Society
Professional Societies are also a great place to find a mentor both locally or globally! I personally have taken part in several formal mentoring programs through societies like American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Formal mentoring programs as are a great way to find a mentor within a specific field like a fellow civil engineer (as I have mentors who are and are not civil engineers). Do keep in mind that if you join a formal mentoring program through a professional association, make sure that you know what is expected of you beforehand. This might include formal surveys throughout the program or specific events that you need to attend to take part in the mentorship program.
For those who are local to the Philadelphia area, I recommend checking out the ASCE Philadelphia YMF 2021-2022 mentorship program that is accepting applications now through Friday October 15th, 2021. The mentee application is open to all young professional and student members within the ASCE Philadelphia Section and can be found here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScQbaVAC7MpzZgYIwWcHWOULfm_UT6g9dRFY3yse2dVGOiHKw/viewform.
Whether you are an intern or a full-time employee, work can be a great place to find a mentor as well. One of my mentors is a work colleague and without him, I would not have been able to reach my goal of becoming a published technical co-author. Your work may even have a formal mentor program that you can join! If they don’t, I encourage you to set up ‘coffee chats’ with folks that have a role that you are interested in as this is a great way to start a mentoring relationship at work. I talk about this more in a past blog post here: https://stemchangemaker.org/2021/07/27/danis-declassified-guide-4-tips-to-turn-an-internship-into-a-full-time-job/
4. Social Media
While this may be a more atypical way, the digital age has changed many things including opening more ways to find a mentor. There are so many STEM professionals who also share their career journey and advice on social media who may be interested in becoming your mentor. While I am not personally taking on any more mentees at this time, please feel free to message me on Instagram and I can help you brainstorm who in your network would be a good mentor for you and how to reach out to them about being your mentor!
Lift as your Climb
Now that we have gone through 4 places to start or continue your mentor search, I want to leave you also with a call to action to lift as you climb. Fellow ASCE member, Jazzy Principe included this in a recent webinar I attended about helping the future generation get to where you are now. This can take many forms from reaching out to your graduate engineers in your group as they are setting goals and preparing for their first annual performance review or as simple as helping someone submit an application or an essay. This small action can go a long way and is just one way you can help those right behind you and maybe even lead to you becoming a mentor yourself!
I hope these four ways help you as you look for your first mentor or add another mentor to your personal board of directors!
What questions do you have for me about mentoring? Feel free to message me your questions on Instagram or write our team an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.