At FindLaw, we know how important having a mentor is to one's professional development, so much so, that we often recommend it's one of the first things you do when you start a new job. But in all of our writings, we've never actually explained how to get a mentor.
It's very easy to say "get a mentor." But, how do you get the ball rolling? Who should you ask? What should you do? We're going to answer those questions for you -- read on to find out how to find a mentor.
1. Do Some Soul Searching
Before you embark on finding a mentor, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself what you want out of the mentor-mentee relationship. Are you looking for a mentor in a niche practice area you're interested in? Are you looking for a mentor who can teach you the art of rainmaking? Figure out what want to learn from you mentor before you start approaching people.
2. Firm-Wide Program
Before you embark on finding a mentor on your own, one writer suggests looking to see if your firm's human resources department has an established mentoring program. Perhaps HR already pairs up associates with senior associates -- it's worth finding out, and will save you some time.
3. Alma Mater
If your law firm doesn't have a mentor program, you may want to check with your university or law school to see if either institution offers a mentorship program for alumni.
4. Go Slow
Once you have found someone that you think could be a good mentor for you, try to get to know them. It may take time to build a relationship, but small, informal conversations could provide the basis for asking for a meeting with your potential mentor.
5. Don't Ask -- at First
Don't just jump in by asking if the person will be your mentor. Have one or two meetings to see how you get along, if the person seems interested in you, if you can learn from the attorney, and if they seem like they have the time to meet occasionally. Be sure that when you ask for a meeting that you have a solid topic that you want to discuss, give the attorney notice of what you want to talk about, and come armed with questions.
6. Make It Regular
Once you've had a few initial meetings with someone and you think you've found a good fit, ask the person if they would be interested in being your professional mentor. Let them know what it is you want to learn, and why you chose them. If the person agrees, then try to schedule a regular meeting to catch up and go over career questions.
Remember, finding a mentor will be an important part of your professional development, and in many ways, the mentor relationship is a lot like karma. One day, someone will ask you to be her mentor -- remember how this process felt and pay it forward.