Looking for a Mentor? Experts Offer Advice to Students, Emerging Professionals

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek January 28, 2022
looking for a mentor

​SHRM Online collected the following tips for college students and emerging HR professionals on where and how to find a mentor:

  • Look to your professors.

"It could be someone you haven't taken a class with, but you've gone to their seminars [or] volunteered with an organization that has that person as a faculty advisor," said Carrie Root, Ph.D. She is the author of The Other Soft Skill: How to Solve Workplace Challenges with Generational Intelligence (Advantage Media Group, 2021) and founder and CEO of Alpha Umi, an education consulting firm headquartered in Tarpon Springs, Fla.

Developing multiple mentor relationships through networking "can be critical to the success of students as emerging professionals," said Harold G. Kaufman, Ph.D., recipient of the 2021 Student Chapter Advisor Impact award. The SHRM Foundation recognized him for his work with New York University's award-winning Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) student chapter.

  • Tap into the knowledge of more senior students.

"This can also lead to mentors who have already learned the skills of job search," Kaufman told SHRM Online. "This includes how to research an employer, which involves leveraging one's network [in a way] that goes beyond the information provided by corporate websites and LinkedIn."

  • Join professional organizations.

"Many of those organizations have local chapters that give you opportunities to go and tour plants and meet with full-time members of those organizations," Root said. "You can develop mentorships [with individuals] within that organization.

"I think SHRM is a fantastic organization," she added. "And getting involved within the organization gives you tremendous access to individuals who have been doing this [work] for a very long time and can help guide you in your career."

The SHRM Foundation offers a free, three-month HR Career Mentoring program for its student members; registration for the virtual program ends March 22.

"Finding a mentor who is widely knowledgeable about HR can be extremely helpful in getting started in the field, including selecting specializations as well as potential employers," Kaufman noted.

  • Work an internship.

"Realize you might not get a job offer but you will be meeting individuals … who may become mentors for you," Root said. "It's up to you to keep the relationships going."

  • Scout around your workplace. 

Find someone outside your direct chain of command who has an opportunity to see your work.

"Perhaps you've noticed someone within your organization whom you admire," Root noted. "Maybe it's the way they handle sales calls. Maybe it's their organizational skills. Approach them and let them know you are looking for a mentor and ask whether they can occasionally spend some time with you." 

Other SHRM resources:
SHRM Foundation Offers Mentoring, Career Programs for Students, Emerging Professionals, SHRM Online, January 2022
How to Find Your First Career Mentor, HR Magazine, August 2021
How to Find the Right HR Mentor, HR Magazine, April 2018



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