Take a minute and think about the great mentors you have had in your life. We have all benefited from integral individuals who were willing to offer guidance and support. Their consejos have helped us achieve our goals and be where we are today!
But how do you decide areas of mentorship for yourself…and how do you make “the ask”?
Here are a few tips to plan and strategize for building your mentor support network:
- Create Your Own Mentor/Support Map – The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity Faculty Bootcamp suggests identifying areas of mentorship as a first step. These areas may include professional development, role models, sponsors, individuals to provide feedback, readers (e.g., manuscripts or tenure materials), and emotional support individuals. The mentor map helps you identify the gaps and overlaps in your mentorship map and build from there! You can also tailor your map depending on your personal and professional needs and goals.
- Identify Your Greatest Area of Mentoring Need – Review your mentor map and identify the glaring gaps. For example, perhaps you are set on feedback and sponsorship, but you need additional support in professional development or emotional support. These gaps will help you target the type of help you need for a very specific “ask.”
- Search for Mentors – Using your personal and professional networks, cultivate a list of individuals who might support your specific mentorship needs. Look for individuals in your LinkedIn network – even second-degree connections – to identify individuals who you think have excelled in your areas of need. Keep a list of prospective mentors and their contact information.
- Make the “Ask” for a Short Meeting – Disclaimer: This might feel a super awkward at first. That’s OK! We’ve all been there, and the worst thing anyone can do is say “no.” And we’ve all heard “no” before (probably since the age of 1), and we’re OK! So, get out there and shake it! Send a short and simple message and try to set up a brief meeting.
- First Meeting – Set up a meeting day and time that is convenient for them. Have a few goals in mind, but ask about the individual’s work and expertise, particularly related to your area of mentorship need. Get to know the prospective mentor to determine if they are a good fit for you. Ask if you can follow up with them at a specific time (i.e., certain number of weeks or months) and share progress on your goals. Thank them! An email or thank you card work well.
- Determine the Relationship – Some mentorship needs are long-term, whereas others are short-term. Consider the length of time you will need to achieve your goals and fulfill your mentorship map. Based on your goals and timeline, ask the mentor if you can share a short list of goals you want to accomplish. This list will help set accountability expectations for their time.
- Maintain Communication – If you’re going to ask someone to serve as a mentor in a specific capacity, be sure to maintain communication with them. Be consistent and follow through! Also, an additional thank you card at the end of your mentorship time is always appreciated.
So, what are your mentorship needs, Mamis? What areas need to be addressed or developed in the upcoming year? As you consider your needs and options, we hope you will consider us. We have a variety of experiences in academia and administration, and we would love to support you! Leave a comment or message us!
Have a great week!
-#scholarmami and #vpmami