How to Get a Mentor

Getting to know a professor can be an extremely daunting thing. I know for me it was a process I was hesitant to approach, let alone know how to go about doing. During summer school last year I decided I was going to be proactive and find a mentor in my major. I eagerly emailed a professor, mind you it was a professor I never met before, in my major and set up a date and time to meet her to pursue that dream mentor. The day came when I was supposed to meet her and I prepared myself mentally, imagining how wonderful the meeting would go and fantasizing how the professor and I would end up being close friends. I walked into her office and introduced myself. After a few awkward silences, and stuttering sentences on my part, I quickly realized this is not how you go about getting a mentor and this professor will not be my mentor.

I had the right intentions, I just didn't go about it the right way. Since then I've been proactive in defining what is the right way to get to know a professor personally and inevitably gaining a mentor. Also, let's be real, getting recommendations are a coveted thing and getting to know a professor can help us gain a great recommendation. I have found out that professors want to talk to students, they do want a personal relationship with their students. Usually they are just waiting for their students to initiate a relationship outside the classroom. I started the process by first emailing a professor, (that I have a class with and know), that I thought would make a great mentor. I confirmed a date and time to meet with the professor and asked to meet to discuss a topic that we are learning in class. When I met with the professor I made sure I had specific questions about the class material. The professors I've met with were very helpful and eager to help anyway they could. While meeting with the professor I made sure I was friendly and talked about some things not related to the class material. Things like the professors' interests, how they decided they wanted to be a professor, and about how their semester is going. It is a slow process, but you can gain a mentor if you are proactive about meeting with your professor. Be honest, tell them that you'd like to have them be your mentor and help you academically or with whatever you would like them to help you with. Professors want to help. Help them help you.

If you have any more questions or need more advice please use any of Relationship IQ resources.

-From your friends here at rIQ

Written by: Shaina Kohli, rIQ Intern 2012, Pepperdine University class of 2013