By Celeste Borras | LinkedIn
Mentors can open seemingly impossible doors, propel careers, and become long-lasting friends. Having a mentor is incredibly helpful to an intern, but it is also a key to faster learning and stronger relationship building no matter where you are in the corporate food chain. Here are some tips on searching for, connecting with, and maintaining a relationship with a mentor in the workplace.
Tip 1: Do your research
Dig around for someone who has already done what you want to do, and was successful. Don’t stop there—pore through their LinkedIn profile and search Google to learn about what they have done and what they are doing now. What project are they working on? Did they publish any research papers? Read up on them as much as you can so you are ready to dive in.
Tip 2: Craft a thoughtful email
Reaching out can be scary, but you already did all of the research and now you know more about them. In your email, include something about what you learned or want to find out more about. Is there something they are working on that you can help with? Showing that you care and are willing to help—instead of asking them to help you—will let them know you are serious and won’t waste their time.
Tip 3: Get ready for the first meeting
Yay! All of your prep work has paid off and you’ve engaged their interest. Now the fun begins. Write out an agenda for your first meeting. It doesn’t have to be extensive—just an outline of the conversation. Include this agenda, your resume, and a calendar invite in your reply. This is incredibly helpful to your mentor and shows that you are thinking of their busy schedule first—a big plus in their books. Don’t forget to prepare questions for the meeting and take notes!
Tip 4: Follow up
Following-up is just as important as prep work. Send an email thanking them for their time and include at least one specific thing that you learned. Since they provided you with lots of great advice, let them know your plan to follow through on what they suggested. Did they mention a book that they love? Order it on Amazon, read it, and send them a synopsis from your perspective. Did they connect you to a colleague? Tell them your plan to reach out and keep them updated. It is always important to follow up a conversation with your mentor on next steps.
Tip 5: Keep it going
You have now followed through on all of your next steps. Reach out and let them know of your progress! Schedule another meeting to discuss what you learned. They will be thrilled that you took their advice and trust you have the initiative to keep learning. Now, rinse and repeat. Go to the meeting with new questions, write down their suggestions, and follow through. As your relationship continues, you will see the interaction become much more organic. Don’t feel pressured to stick to a certain structure, and take their lead!
Congratulations! Because of your thoughtfulness, initiative, and helpful mentality you know have a mentor to help navigate the intern world. Remember to always be mindful of their busy schedule, to follow-up, and follow-through. Who knows—you could end up with a mentor for life! Good Luck.
Celeste Borras is a senior at American University, working towards a BS degree in Business Administration and Management. She is interning with the Inside Sales team at CSC, and shadowing consulting teams within the company. Previously, Celeste has interned with her Business school’s Center for Career Development and continues to pursue her passion for mentorship and professional development on campus through the AU Consulting Club and her university’s professional business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi.