Find a mentor with four easy steps

Among the most dreaded lines of advice for job seekers is the cryptic “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”


If you’re new to the industry, a recent college graduate or work at a small company, you need to network – a lot. Finding a mentor will help. It also can be a challenge. 

Recent surveys show that workers are 64 percent more likely to find the next job through networking or someone they know. And if you’re in a computer, technology, sales or operations field, that number climbs higher.

So, how can you develop your network and move forward in your career?

“Having a mentor can be helpful to guide job seekers toward seemingly unknown opportunities,” Katie McCue, a career development specialist at the Regis University Center for Career and Professional Development, says. “These folks might already be in the job or industry you are wanting to enter so they can provide insider information that you might not get without this form of networking.”

What is a mentor?

In short, a mentor can be anyone who shares their expertise, cheers you on and gives you feedback and advice. In many ways, a mentor is a professional friend.

Mentors can be anyone really – co-workers, faculty, advisors, business owners, CEOs. Anyone who you turn to for insight, support and feedback throughout your job search or any time in your life can be a mentor." - Katie McCue, career development specialist

While a good friend might support you or give you advice, a mentor stands apart by helping you advance in your field and gain access to new opportunities. Mentors may work in the same field or industry as you but be in a position where you’d like your career to go.

Do your homework

Before you start spamming in-boxes with invites to be your mentor, you’ll need to do some inner reflection.

  • Know what you want. Develop long term (5 to 10 years ahead) and short term (within the next 6 months to a year) goals for your career. Consider using the SMART template and use your industry knowledge and dream job as guidelines.
  • Research. What is that dream job at the end of your career roadmap? Look at your current professional network or company’s organizational chart for people who occupy your dream job. While a C-level executive might be too busy for a mentorship, you may be able to find someone who has been in your shoes and can offer great insights.
  • Understand what you’re asking. Being a mentor is a time commitment. Recognize the energy and attention you’re asking someone to give you and how that might affect their schedule and workload. How much time are you looking for, e.g., a quarterly check-in or more in-depth, bi-weekly meetings?
  • What do you bring to the table? A mentorship is a two-way street and good “mentees” also bring value to the relationship. You won’t have years of career experience to share but your enthusiasm, drive and fresh perspectives are assets to offer.


Establish a connection

With the research and prep work completed, it’s time to reach out and introduce yourself. First, look to your current professional network for mutual connections. Your boss, former professors or colleagues may be able to introduce you. If you don’t have mutual connections, a cold email or LinkedIn message is an option.

Don’t simply ask someone to be a mentor. Be clear and concise in your goals; include what interests you about their work or position. Ask for an informational interview – this can be a great way to ask questions and learn if you both have an interest in a formal or informal mentorship.

When you get to the point of making the ask, be clear about what you are looking for. Share your goals, the steps you have outlined to get there and what you’re hoping to accomplish. Above all else, make sure your tone and message clearly recognize that this is a choice, not a requirement. Sounding too demanding can end a mentorship before it begins.

Be a good ‘mentee’

Once you’ve established a connection, let the relationship evolve organically. That may seem contradictory to setting clear goals, but you can’t force a professional relationship any more than a personal one.

Established mentor relationships take many forms – from exchanging emails to coffee dates. Regardless of the format, here are some tips for being a good mentee:

  • Don’t check out or go on autopilot, expecting your mentor to tell you what to do. Continue to be engaged and an active participant in the relationship.
  • Ask for feedback. Share a report you worked on, review a presentation you gave or reflect on an upcoming project.
  • Establish an agenda or routine. Consistency will provide structure to your mentorship and keep you on topic.
  • Take notes and follow up. Being a mentee is work and requires time put in outside of meeting with your mentor.
  • Remember, this isn’t therapy. Don’t spend time complaining about your co-worker or personal struggles. Keep things professional and relevant.

Take action

If you get stuck along the way, look to the support system around you for help. If you are a college graduate, contact your university’s career center for networking tips, resume help or career field surveys and guidance.

At Regis University, our Center for Career and Professional Development offers several alternatives to cold calling your future mentor. “With the right mindset, any opportunity, event or experience could be a way to find a mentor,” suggests McCue.

Employers from various industries can post and share virtual and in-person events on Handshake, a job platform specifically for college students. These events range from information sessions to hiring information or career networking. Currently, these events are happening virtually and increase networking possibilities where you potentially could find a mentor.

Ready to explore new opportunities to find a mentor for your career? Faculty and fellow classmates offer a range of new connections and career opportunities. And both of these are available in the dozens of certificate and graduate degree programs offered online and in person at Regis University.


Start a conversation with an Admissions counselor today to find the right program for you and to expand your networking and career potential.

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