Shadowing a DoctorJuly 18, 2014
What Should You Look For In A Mentor?
While mentors essentially serve as role models and should be somebody you look up to and aspire to be like, they do not necessarily have to be a carbon copy of where you want your career to head towards nor do they need to match your personal demographics. It’s not the background of the mentor that matters. What matters is that the mentor is willing to offer you the advice, encourage and guidance you need to meet your career goals. Having a mentor from a different personal and professional background from yours can give open your eyes to various possibilities and give you plenty of food for thought.
Single Mentor V/S Multiple Mentors
One of the things many students debate about is whether it is a good idea to have just one mentor or is multiple mentors better? There is no one fixed answer to this question. It depends on the mentor as well as what it is you are looking for.
If you have one mentor who meets all of your mentoring needs then your search ends right there and then. If not, then you should consider multiple mentors. This is in fact a preferable option as it allows you to get different perspectives, which can add tremendous value to the learning process.
Establishing A Mentor/Mentee Relationship
Once you’ve have identified a few potential mentors, it’s time to reach out to them. If you know someone can introduce you that would make it easier for you but there are ways to approach a potential mentor without an intermediary. Emailing them directly is the best way to get started. Unlike cold calling where you run the risk of calling at an inappropriate time, an email allows the person to read the contents at leisure and consider whether or not this is a responsibility that they would like to take on.
In your email, first introduce yourself and explain what it is you are looking for. Keep it brief, polite and to the point. Ask for a face-to-face meeting at their convenient time.
While it is natural to feel hesitant about sending out an email of this nature, it helps to remember that professionals in these positions are quite accustomed to being approached by interested students and even if they are personally unable to help for any reason, chances they would know somebody else who might be better suited.
What To Expect From Your Mentor/Mentee Relationship
There are no rigid rules governing a mentor/mentee relationship. You may decide to meet for half an hour twice a week or an hour once every two weeks. It all depends on both of your schedules and what it is exactly that you are looking for. Ideally, the commitment will be a balance between the level of guidance you require with the availability of your mentor. This initial arrangement may change over a period of time as the relationship evolves or your requirements change.