How to Find a Mentor

It is good practice to spend some time thinking about the skills, knowledge, experience, and personality traits that you are looking for in a mentor.  While you will be able to search for mentors based on some demographic criteria, you may have to read through content in the mentor profiles in their entirety in order to get a sense of whether he or she fulfills your criteria.  Remember that, depending on your class year, you may be able to have several mentors over the course of your time at Amherst.  As a result, your criteria may change as you grow.  So it is good practice to evaluate your criteria for a mentor each time you engage in the process.  Below are some variables for you to consider.

Is it important for your mentor to be close in age, early in his or her career, or a more seasoned professional?  The goals you have for the relationship will help to determine your answer.  For example, if your goals are to apply to grad school, it may be more appropriate to speak with someone who has more recently gone through the process.  If your goals are related to your future career path, it may be more appropriate to connect with someone who is early in his or her career or more seasoned as a mentor.  Even so, both options may have very different perspectives that could be valuable.  Someone early in their career may be able to speak more readily to the realities of the day in the life of the position you would most likely apply to or may be able to give their firsthand account of the application process.  Someone more seasoned in their career may offer a broader perspective or share interviewing insight as a hiring manager.

Common Interests.
Is it important that your mentor like all the same things that you do, such as sports, music, books?  Is it important they share the same academic pursuits?  While sharing a common interest helps to build rapport and provides immediate topics of conversation, a mentor who has different interests than you may encourage you to develop new interests and explore topics or events that you may not otherwise have considered or been exposed to previously.

What types of experiences do you want your mentor to have in their background?  For example, is it important that your mentor share your major or work in the industry in which you are most interested?  Is it important that your mentor have pursued a graduate degree or belonged to the same student organization as you?

Is it important for your mentor to be the same gender, race, or ethnicity or is it important that they be a different gender, race, or ethnicity?  Having race, gender, or ethnicity in common with your mentor may provide you a perspective of how that factor has played out in his or her experiences which may or may not resound with you.  For example, an international student searching for a job or internship may have to explain his or her visa status during their search so it may be helpful to have a mentor that has also had to navigate this situation in their own career.  However, differences in these areas can provide a valuable diversity of perspective that may open your eyes to different views of the world.

Personality Traits. 
Are you looking for particular personality traits in a mentor?  For example, it may be important to you that your mentor have a good sense of humor or perhaps conduct herself very professionally in her demeanor.  In order to get a sense of personality, mentors have completed a profile answering several questions about themselves.  We encourage you to read through the profiles to see if the answers and the style in which they are written resonates with the “type” of mentor you are seeking.