How to Find a Mentor from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit We have all needed some kind of mentoring at some point in our lives. A mentor is defined to be "a wise and trusted counselor or teacher". The key difference however between a "mentor" and a "teacher" or "trainer" is that mentoring is usually done on a voluntary basis. Before the revolutionary change in communications, mentoring was something that you got by someone who has personal interest in your welfare and development. However, with the advances in the field of communications and the emergence of the new concept of "the small village", this has changed. Today, you can find a mentor who lives thousands of miles away from you, and whom you never met before (and probably won't meet). This article is a guide to the different methods by which you can find a mentor to help you in any aspect of your life you wish to develop.
- Decide the type of mentoring you need. Mentoring can take many forms and can fall under many categories.
- Find out the category of mentoring you need. There are different categories/types of mentoring. You need to understand the different categories and the differences between one and the other to be able to determine what is the category of mentoring you really need. Some of the mentoring categories are
- Academic/schooling/educational mentoring. This type of mentoring well usually require face-to-face sessions with your mentor. The mentor is expected to excel in the subject matter, have time for periodical recurrent meetings/sessions and to some extent familiar with you. However, it is possible to have a successful mentoring relationship without having to be limited to sessions or locations. Modern technologies such as instant messaging, chat rooms and video conferencing can be used to have sessions with mentors who live overseas.
- Sports and recreational mentoring. This is pretty much similar to the educational mentoring category, only the mentor is usually expected to excel at the sport/craft sought. It is also much harder to have a successful relationship if the mentor is located in another state, province or country.
- Business/professional mentoring. In this type of mentoring, you need help regarding your business or career. This kind of mentoring is very hard to implement using a session oriented approach. It is usually done using modern communication techniques such as email and phone calls. The nature of mentoring also differs in that it takes the form of question/answer more than a guidance form.
- Decide the topic you need mentoring for. Try to be as precise and clear as you can. Set goals and milestones you are hoping to fulfill through the mentoring experience.
- Find out how urgent is your need for mentoring. Although mentoring can be a long term relationship, it also can be urgent and short term. It is not encouraged however to look for mentoring in crisis situations. For example, it would be much easier if you found and started working with a mentor long before an exam comes. Do not start looking for mentoring two or three weeks before such urgent situations unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Understand the role(s) of a mentor. In brief, mentors are supposed to help you learn how to do things not doing things for you. After familiarizing you with the topic of mentoring, they are supposed to help you further enhance your learning process without mentors in the future. Many people fall into the trap of thinking that mentors should do things for them.
- An excellent example is when you need mentoring to complete a project for school/college. The mentor might (and is usually supposed to) use a totally different example to show you how things are done. If your project is writing an essay about some public figure, the mentor might use another public figure as an example. You should learn the general idea of writing essays about public figures not the idea of writing essays about a certain one.
- Some of the main tasks a mentor is supposed to do are:
- Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the mentored.
- Help the mentored understand the structure and organization of the topic.
- Introduce new perspectives for the mentored and correcting any wrong ones towards the subject of mentoring.
- Boost your ability to make decisions regarding problems usually faced in the field of the subject matter. This is usually done by giving you examples of various methods to solve a certain problem in the field.
- Familiarize the mentored with new learning techniques that you might use in the future.
- Introduce the mentored to important resources and references that will be useful in the field of the subject being mentored.
- Check if your company, school, or college has a formal mentoring program. If so, enroll in it, and see if it fulfills your goals.
- Decide what specifics you are looking for in your sought mentor. Write down any problems or specific requirements you might have regarding the following issues. You have to be honest to yourself and clear when deciding on some of these issues.
- Specify the required experience in the field of mentoring and the subject matter you need in your mentor.
- Regional Issues
- Distance: will you have any problem if the mentor was not located within the same few miles you're in. This also depends on the type of mentoring you need, whether it requires both of you to be located at the same area, whether it requires real time instructions being given by the mentor and whether it involves physical instructional materials that will be otherwise hard to transfer/communicate using other media (such as email and phone).
- Time zone differences: this is usually a crucial factor in long-distance mentoring. You have to decide if the mentor has to be within your same time zone (usually, in cases where the speed of responses needed from the mentor is a crucial factor) or if the mentor can be a few time zones away.
- Geographical location: this is not the same as the distance issue, rather, it is to decide whether the mentoring has to be done in a specific geographical location or not. This is usually faced when you are trying to find a mentor to teach you some sport that requires specific environments such skiing. In some other situations, the mentoring must be carried out in specific work environments like factories and shops.
- Gender related issues: although it is usually encouraged to be open when it comes to the gender of your mentor, sometimes this might cause troubles. You'll have to decide if you might have trouble with mentors of some gender or not. This might sometimes be for the strangest reasons and it does not at all encourage gender discrimination. For example, male persons seeking mentors who feel they might get emotionally involved if the mentor was a female, and the other way around, should try to stick to mentors of the same gender so as not to break the relationship with their mentors.
- Narrow down the list of places where you can find such mentors. This is mainly done by looking for candidate places where you can find mentors according to the category of mentoring you decided in Step 1 of "Organize Your Thoughts Before Getting a Mentor" section. Some tips that might be useful are:
- Educational mentors are usually sought in relatives, friends and classmates, older students in your school/college and other close acquaintances. However, for adults, it is also possible to find mentors who live overseas and not in the close acquaintances circuit. Online mentoring is possible through virtual sessions using chat and conferencing software. It is recommended to be careful in this kind of mentoring though, online predators can be very nice at the beginning so don't ask someone to mentor you online unless you're ready to keep the relationship strictly professional. Do not provide any other information to your online mentor that might reveal your location or age.
- Sports and recreational mentoring is usually harder to find. The mentor should have a good knowledge of the sport or craft you are trying to find mentoring in. This limits the list of candidate mentors to close acquaintances who are good at the sport/craft of your choosing.
- Business/professional mentors are usually sought in business partners, superior colleagues (not directly supervising you and preferably not within your same division) and business acquaintances.
- Create a list of potential mentors. Organize this list to include your preferences, mentor information and contacts, and your personal comments about each mentor.
- Start approaching mentors on the list one by one. Do not approach any mentor on the list unless you get a negative response (or no response for a period of time) from the previous mentor. Try to make some kind of a "timeout" duration that you will wait for a mentor to respond before assuming a negative response, but do that only if necessary. Take into consideration the level of commitments each mentor has. For example, if one of the sought mentors is the CEO of a corporate that you can contact by email only, give it a few days, people like this can be very busy to respond to their emails.
- Be patient. If the first attempt fails, don't drop it. Continue trying until you're out of options.
- Formulate an obvious schedule and methodology of the mentoring with your mentor before you begin the mentoring. If the mentoring involves no sessions, then decide on the method of communication and the frequency of it with your mentor.
- Frequently show your mentor some appreciation for what he/she is doing for you. This will give the mentor a feeling of being useful, needed and appreciated, which usually is good. Gratitude can also be extended to include a small gift as a "thank you" token.
- Keep a strictly professional relationship between you and your mentor, especially if you are seeking business mentoring. Emotional involvement with your mentor will usually not be in the best interest of the mentoring process.
- This is not about finding a wikiHow mentor! For wikiHow mentors, see here.
Sources and Citations
- ↑ Definition of "mentor" in Wiktionary
- ↑ 8 Ways to Find a Mentor
- ↑ The Value of a Mentor
- ↑ How to Find a Mentor
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