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Exploring career mentoring and coaching
Exploring career mentoring and coaching

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3 Finding the right mentor

A young woman looks excitedly at the camera through some binoculars.
Figure 3 Looking for a mentor

There are several ways to find a mentor.

Find them yourself

Evidence suggests that mentees who find their own mentor tend to have a more successful experience. You might do this by approaching an individual directly. If you choose this approach, make sure you do your homework first. Know what you want from them and what you can offer in return.

Activity 3 Who might mentor me?

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Consider the goals you came up with in Activity 1. Who could best help you with those?

Start with your own network of contacts. A mentor could be anyone! Are there people at work who you could approach? Are there people outside work or within your local community? Do your friends or family know anyone who might be useful to talk to?

Think about the characteristics or experience you want to benefit from. For example, if you are thinking about starting your own business, an entrepreneur who seems to be doing well – regardless of their product – could offer some useful advice. Remember, you aren’t necessarily looking for a relationship that lasts for years – it may be that a single meeting will give you what you need to move forward.

Also, try to identify people that you have something in common with. If they can remember being in your shoes, they are more likely to want to help.

In the box below, start a list of possible contacts.

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Once you’ve come up with a shortlist, rank them and then decide how you’re going to make contact. A personal introduction is always a good way to start if you have a mutual contact. Use Week 8’s next steps activity (Activity 2) to make a plan.

If you are taking this course because you want to become a mentor – having a mentor yourself will be a useful experience. You can learn from their approach and techniques – either borrowing things you think are effective, or learning from their mistakes.

Through your employer

Many larger employers offer in-house mentoring schemes with formal matching processes. This process will be undertaken either by experienced staff or online matching software.

When the matching has been done by someone else, it can be more difficult to build the mentoring relationship. Refer back to Week 3 to remind yourself about building rapport and trust.

A lower maintenance option is for an organisation to hold a list of people looking for a mentor or mentee. It is the responsibility of the individual to contact potential mentors/mentees from the list to discuss the possibilities further.

Independent mentoring organisations

If you’re not currently in employment or your employer doesn’t have a scheme, there are also independent mentoring schemes available.

For example, the Coaching and Mentoring Network [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] lists coaches and mentors in an online directory and offers a range of service options – from self-service to a managed service that includes matching. is an online provider of business mentoring, which offers a directory of mentoring services and organisations searchable geographically.

Alternatively, your professional organisation may offer a scheme that is appropriate for your specific occupation.

Now you’ve spent some time considering the mentoring relationship from the perspective of the mentee, the next section looks briefly at what is involved in becoming a mentor.