You may think finding a mentor in your field is tough, but if you’ve been diligent (and lucky) enough to find you’re field you’re already more than halfway there. Finding what you want to do with your life is really the big challenge and will greatly inform how you go about finding a mentor. Different career fields have different paths, and most likely more than one path, so the field you choose will influence how you will approach mentorship.
That said, there are some tips that work across most careers and knowing these tricks can help you find guidance. Below, we take a look at these five tips for finding a career mentor in your field.
1. Join Clubs
We’ve all heard the mantra about networking, and for good reason, but there are a lot of clubs out there that often go unnoticed when considering where to find a mentor. Most people shoot for industry-specific clubs, which of course is always a good idea, but local and national clubs can be great resources.
Your local Toastmasters, Rotary Club and other social clubs are good places to make connections, especially when you’re not sure where to start. For example, Toastmasters is built around improving public speaking, which is a common goal for people across industries, and regional chapters can be found almost anywhere.
2. Use Social Media
The default answer to almost any question these days is “social media.” How do you find a job? Social media. How do you advertise? Social media. Where are my cars keys? Social media.
When it comes to finding a mentor, though, it can actually be a helpful tool. Depending on the network, you can find groups with public pages that you can join to begin establishing relationships. You can also use your current network of friends and family to reach out and ask for guidance and find information.
3. Get Schooled
The halls of academia are a reliable source for mentors, even if you aren’t an alumnus. Of course, you can’t just walk up to a professor and ask for personal guidance in your career, but universities, community colleges and local learning centers often post information on mentoring and career advisor programs.
And, if you are an alumnus, that’s all the better. Consult your campus’s Career Services Center to get some ideas if you don’t have any personal connections in the faculty. Before you do, though, consider whether searching in the department of your chosen field could help.
4. Mix It Up
With a little research you can easily find out where other people in your field are meeting professionally and just breeze right in. Symposiums, conventions and workshops that are focused in your career area are a great place to rub elbows, pass out business cards and establish some connections.
Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone – that’s half the point. Despite appearances, people at these functions are predisposed to being approached by strangers. Be receptive, ask questions and collect contact information. And, don’t forget to enjoy the food and drink!
5. Go Virtual
The words “mentor” and “mentorship” can sometimes conjure up antiquated images of sitting at the knee of some bearded sage, absorbing wisdom while the hearth crackles and pops in the background. Well, this isn’t Dagobah and your future mentor will not be Yoda.
In fact, he or she may not even be in the same room. Technology is changing the face of relationships, and the mentor-mentee relationship is no exception. Sometimes this is part of an alumni program, but there are virtual resources available for those who have no alumni connections.
Finding a mentor in your career field can take time, and will certainly take effort. Don’t settle for anything less than the best and you can’t go wrong.
James Madeiros writes for Masters in Accounting, a career site providing valuable information and resource lists for those interested in accounting education and careers from forensic accountant to public accountant.