It was wonderful to have BEAM representatives Annie Vleck and Ahmad Wright with us at the WCC for our Mentoring 101 event! They offered valuable insight into finding and maintaining a connection with a mentor. Here is some of the advice they shared:
1. Finding the right mentor
Each person’s “right” mentor varies! Depending on what you’re looking for, a mentor may look or act in different ways. Think about what you are looking for, including the background of your potential mentor and your goals for your relationship with that mentor, and then try to outline 5 words to describe your ideal mentor. There are also numerous resources to find mentors, among which include the Stanford Alumni Mentoring Program, LinkedIn, internships/jobs, and the Alumni directory, all of which BEAM can assist you on. There are also different types of mentors someone might have at any given moment: there’s the 1-year-from-now mentor, or someone who is in a position that you’d like to be in ~12 months from now; there’s the 5-years-from-now mentor, and even a 10+-years-from-now mentor. The questions you might have for each of these types of mentors are different, and that’s good!
2. Making the ask + cultivating conversation
You don’t have to approach someone out of the blue and ask them formally to be your mentor! Oftentimes, finding a mentor can be very informal. If you have already met someone (a teacher or a recruiter), establishing a connection can be as simple as inviting your potential mentor to a follow-up meeting, coffee, or lunch. Set goals and expectations and be upfront with what you’re hoping they can help with. Over time, the trust that a mentor and mentee build can allow emotional closeness through being vulnerable. Remember, mentors want to help you succeed!
3. Maintaining the connection
Once you’ve found someone you’d like to get to know better, maintain your connection! Mentorship is a two-way street, so do not assume your mentor will drive the process. Stay in touch, be eager to learn, show gratitude, and look for knowledge–not validation! Even a quarterly/annual email to thank them and give a small update into whats happening in your life can work!
Mentorship can be a valuable learning resource for anyone, and we hope that these tips will guide you on your search. BEAM is also open for students looking for help finding a mentor. See https://beam.stanford.edu/students for more info!