Land a Mentor

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

As a career counselor for health professional students at the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD), my goal is to help you navigate your career successfully.

In honor of National Mentoring Month, January’s career tip is on how to ask someone to be your mentor.

Below are several tips that can help you with your mentorship request:

  • Establish a relationship. When initiating a relationship with a potential mentor, we recommend that you start off with a small ask. It could be for one piece of advice or a short meeting to discuss a topic. If the relationship grows and becomes more established, you can consider asking for additional support.
  • Articulate your goals. In communicating your goals to a potential mentor, you want to answer two questions: What is the area that I need to work on to be successful? What specifically would I like from a mentor to help me be successful in that area?
  • Let them know why you would like them to serve as your mentor. Does this potential mentor have expertise in an area that you have been trying to strengthen? Do they have the career that you are seeking to pursue?
  • Thank them! Irrespective of whether they accept your request to serve as your mentor, it is important to thank them. If they are able to mentor you, it shows your appreciation for their efforts. If not, you will be remembered for your professionalism.

Below is a sample initial request to a potential mentor:

Hi Dr. Tarth,

It was a pleasure to meet you at Alumni Weekend! I enjoyed learning about your career in pediatrics.

I plan to pursue a residency in pediatrics. My goal is to identify strategies to create a competitive residency application. Given your personal experience with the residency application process as well as your experience on a residency selection committee, do you have 30-minutes in the next two weeks to discuss best practices? Thank you for considering this request.

Want more information on mentorship or how to find a mentor? Check out the Office of Career and Professional Development website where you can find programs and resources on the mentorship process. You can also make an appointment with OCPD. In addition, sign up for UCSF Connect, UCSF’s online professional networking platform, where you can search for people willing to serve as mentors.