National Mentor Month: 7 Tips for Finding a Mentor as An Adult Online Learner
We all hear how important it is to have a mentor. They can help provide both professional and personal guidance, motivation, emotional support and insight as well as connect you with people you would otherwise not have access to.
Sounds great, right? Of course it does. But knowing how to begin the process of finding the right person and asking them to be your mentor can be a bit tricky. If you are an adult-learner who is taking online classes finding a mentor can be challenging because you are most likely working full-time and don’t have a lot of spare time.
At NECB we understand the challenges adult-learners face. Our population is unique in that 96% of our students are working-adults who bring a wealth of knowledge and real-world experience to the classroom. With the borderless nature of the online classroom, NECB is always looking to create more innovative ways to help connect our students to create and cultivate mentor relationships among their fellow peers and faculty.
In celebration of National Mentor Month, the New England College of Business’ faculty and staff pulled together tips on how to find a mentor when you are an adult-learner at an online college including:
- Ask Yourself, “What Do I Want?”
Don’t forget why you decided to pursue finding a mentor. Write down what your goals are be it switching careers, being promoted, earning your online degree, etc. No matter what your goals are, clarifying your expectations and objectives will help ensure you find the right person for you.
- Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery
Is there someone in your workplace or local community you look up to or admire? Take this opportunity to learn more about how this person got to where they are (e.g. did they go to college, what was their degree, what groups / networking events is this person a part of, etc.). This person could potentially be a great mentor to you.
- Attend Local Networking Events
A great mentor can be found in a variety of places. If you’ve identified someone who you admire or look up to, see if they are a member of any networking events or are a part of any local groups you can join. If not, you can also look into joining business or women’s associations in your area, non-profit organizations, church groups, your online college, etc.
- Make Contact
Once you’ve identified a potential mentor, reach out to ask to schedule a meeting to discuss a possible mentoring relationship. Take this opportunity to share why you want this person to potentially become your mentor, don’t be afraid to share examples of what they have done that resonate with you or inspire you. This will show you have done your homework and are serious about establishing a mentoring relationship.
- Be Persistent
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. Just like you, your potential mentor is probably very busy. Don’t be afraid to be persistent as this will also reaffirm how serious you are. If you don’t hear back after a week, send a follow up email letting them know you understand they are busy but look forward to hearing back.
- Scheduling a Meeting
Now that you’ve identified a potential mentor, set up an in-person meeting (if possible) in a mutually comfortable location where you two can speak openly. Don’t forget to be patient. Your potential mentor wants to be helpful, but they might have a lot going on. Understand that they might need you to be flexible and understand that their time is limited. Ensure you express your appreciation and gratitude for their time and insight.
- Follow Up
Being a mentor can be a huge undertaking. Even if it doesn’t work out with your potential mentor, make sure to send a thank you email to show your gratitude. Ideally, we recommend sending a hand-written note as this will have a long-lasting impression. But we understand this may not always be possible.
If they agree to be your mentor, congratulations! It’s time for you to celebrate and be proud of yourself. And always remember to express appreciation whenever your mentor works with you.
For example, NECB recently created a Graduate & Alumni Council which provides an interactive forum for all our students and alumni to engage and share best practices, as well as meet and learn from interdisciplinary business leaders in the NECB community. We hope through this group, we can provide a connected and inspired community that fosters mentoring, learning, growth, and networking opportunities for our graduate students.