How can I Find a Good Mentor?

Paulla Estes

A mentor is a person that another person can look up to, and is usually seen as a trusted counselor or guide. He or she is usually an older, more experienced individual who helps someone else in his or her personal or professional development. Although these people can be sought in a variety of social or professional capacities, they are perhaps most commonly found in a work environment. Often, finding a good mentor is a matter of thinking carefully about the people in your life who you look up to and want to be like, and then speaking to one of those people about ways to make the relationship a little more formal.

An older colleague might make the perfect mentor.
An older colleague might make the perfect mentor.

Some people start developing relationships with a mentor early in life, such as through the Big Brother and Big Sister programs. In these cases, children are mentored in social and academic settings; usually these programs are for “at risk” children, but any child can benefit from this experience.

Good mentors usually share common interests.
Good mentors usually share common interests.

Finding a good mentor can be as easy as looking to a boss or a trusted colleague at work or church. Sometimes, one can be found through a professional or trade organization, although it is often easier to develop a relationship with someone you already know, because you have probably seen that person in action. Think about the people you know and work with and what types of skills or insights they could help you learn. Perhaps you are looking for an adviser with experience in your area of work, or an older parent to guide you as you raise your young children. This person might be more of a listener as you bounce ideas off him or her about life, work, and personal goals.

When looking for a mentor, consider first what exactly it is you want from a mentoring relationship. Think about your personality style and what type of person will complement and benefit you best. Consider talking to friends and colleagues about their mentors, or ask if they know anyone who might be a good fit for you. Remember that, sometimes, this person might be someone you see and work with every day; keep an open mind and consider every possibility.

Next, think about the people who you looked up to in the past, perhaps a teacher or supervisor who was especially helpful to you. Learn to identify the type of person who works best with your goals and needs. Have a clear picture of what you want from the mentoring relationship and communicate this clearly to your potential adviser. This will avoid any future confusion about the purpose and expectations of the relationship.

You may also need to be assertive. Sometimes, a relationship happens naturally, but usually, people must take a deliberate course of action to find a mentor. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Young adults may participate in the Big Brother and Big Sister programs.
Young adults may participate in the Big Brother and Big Sister programs.

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Discussion Comments


Moldova-I know that at my kid’s school they have peer mentors. They usually have the middle school tutor the children in the elementary grades in order to help them with concepts that are difficult for them to grasp.

These kids are from the National Honor Society and it is nice that they help other kids in their own school.


Cupcake15-I could not agree with you more. The United Way also serves many charities in order to mentor kids.

They have the Miami Bridge organization that houses troubled kids that allows adults the opportunity to play board games and spend some time with these kids.

I also know that in Miami, there is a mentor program in place with local businesses that allow kids from a troubled high school to attend courses at the Community College and after they finish their course load they receive a high school diploma and a job with a local business.

For example, some kids prepare to work in the hospital transporting patients. This allows for these troubled kids to get a job immediately after graduation so that they could have a future.


Latte31-I think that being a volunteer mentor in order to mentor children is really important.

Some children do not have the luxury of an intact family and some may not even have a family at all. These children need to have a positive influence in their life because they have to learn that not everyone will walk out on them.

They need to learn to trust again and for many of these kids it is difficult because if their own parents turned their backs on them, who are supposed to love them above anything else how can a stranger care for them.

For these children, they need a positive male and female in their lives so that they can grow up with a chance at a normal life.

Mentors can really make a difference to these kids because all they want is time. They do not want anything else. An organization like Big Brothers and Big Sisters is an excellent organization that really tries to feel this void in these young children’s lives.


KoKoa59- I could not agree with you more. I have been lucky in my life and have had several mentors that have really taught me about business and not giving up.

I have had a few bosses that looked out for me and really made me learn how to deal with difficult conflicts.

A manager mentor is probably the best working relationship you can hope for.

When a supervisor cares enough to want to see you succeed you have really been blessed, but those bosses are a true diamond in the ruff.


Sometimes people don't know how to ask for help or else they are unwilling to admit they need help. Having a mentor (professional or personal) can make all the difference in the world. Looking back at my days in college, my first part-time job as a manuscript typist provided me with my first professional mentor though I didn't realize it at the time. He showed me how he overcame pitfalls early in his career, how to set personal deadlines and goals, and how a good work ethic is vital. I wish I had sought more mentors... If you can rely on someone "who's got your back", who knows what you can accomplish!

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