How to Find the Right Career Mentor

Mentoring Spotlight
Four people smiling while they shake hands.

We discuss how to find a mentor and outline the ways the Bear Down Network can help you in your search.

Landing a job as a recent college graduate is daunting enough by itself. Factor in trying to find someone to help you navigate the professional waters of your own career development, and you may feel like you’re facing an uphill battle.

The good news is that the Arizona Alumni Association can help you find a mentor who’s a perfect fit for you. Follow these steps to find a career mentor — and learn how the Bear Down Network can help along the way.

Step 1: Buckle down and get some experience. 

As a recent college grad, one of the most important things to do right from the get-go is establish a reputation as a hard worker who gets things done. That means you must be determined to make an impact on everything you do, while still being willing to take on new things you’ve never tried before. You must be a team player who’s ready to roll up your sleeves and do the work. This will help you cast a wider net of potential mentors because individuals who have worked in your industry for a while won’t want to waste their time mentoring someone who isn’t determined to grow and get better.

Tip: Do not interpret this step as a need to know everything right away. Instead, be open to learning, growing and failing — because at the end of the day, one of the most powerful ways to get better is to fail and learn from your mistakes. Potential mentors will see that in you and make them more willing to help you get to where you want to go.

Step 2: Define your career goals.

Ask yourself the big question: Where do you want your career to take you? Spend some time thinking about where you want to be in a year, five years, 10 years and beyond. This is a time to dream big — but make sure you don’t get too attached to your theoretical path. You want to leave some room to let your career play out organically and take advantage of opportunities as they come. Outlining some concrete goals you can work toward, however, will help you identify potential mentors.

Perhaps the hardest part of mentorship for aspiring professionals is finding a mentor

Step 3: Identify who has the job you want in the future — and how they got there.

Now that you have a rough plan in place for your career, it’s time to seek out a mentor. But where do you begin? Start by looking to the people who currently have the job you ultimately want in the future. Take a deeper dive into the paths that each one of those people followed to get to where they are today — scan their LinkedIn profiles, search for their bios online and learn about their accomplishments. If there are any candidates who’ve taken a similar path to the one you laid out for yourself, move those individuals to the top of your list.

Step 4: Tap into your alumni network.

Having trouble finding potential mentors? The Arizona Alumni Association’s Bear Down Network can help. The network has an extensive network of Arizona alumni — just like yourself — who are passionate about helping others start and navigate their careers. On the Bear Down Network, you can search for mentors by industry, job function and company, making it easy to find the right fit. These individuals have identified that they are open to nurturing the careers of potential mentees.

Tip: The best mentor-mentee relationships begin with some shared things in common. So, if you find your future mentor through the network, you’ll have something in common right from the start: You’re both Wildcats for Life. The power of sharing some common ground with your mentor cannot be overstated — and being alumni from the same university is a great place to start.

Step 5: Reach out to candidates and partner up with the best fit for you.

Now that you have your candidates locked in, it’s time to reach out to the handful of individuals at the top of your list. Send them an email introducing yourself and ask if you can schedule some time for an informational chat. This is a great way to learn more about them as people as well as get a better feel for their careers as a whole. It’s also an invaluable opportunity to see if you connect with them on a deeper level. After having a few conversations, reach out to the candidate you feel is the best fit and ask them if they’ll be your mentor. Chances are, if you feel like you clicked well with them and could see your relationship building over time, they likely feel the same and will be happy to serve as career guide.

Tip: Mentorship should be a mutually beneficial relationship. A mentor provides a mentee with time, resources, advice and invaluable experience. When reaching out to a potential mentor, ask yourself: What can I bring to this relationship? Why should they make time for me? Approach your potential mentor with enthusiasm, optimism and gratitude. Many mentors are hoping to forge a meaningful relationship and gain some personal satisfaction in helping with someone's growth and development.

Ready to Get Started?

Are you ready to find a professional mentor? Get started today by starting your search for a mentor on the Bear Down Network.