The mentoring process has been identified as a powerful tool in students’ career exploration and planning. The Career Resource Center has made the mentoring process simple for you via our MentorLink program.
The MentoLink program provides a way for University at Buffalo School of Management students to contact School of Management alumni and friends who have agreed to assist you in your career exploration and planning. The program is designed to provide opportunities for you to speak with professionals to obtain career-related information such as:
To help you gain the most from MentorLink please follow these guidelines:
It is highly unlikely that alumni and friends of the school will know specific job openings, so please do not ask them for a job or a referral to someone else in their firm. All you want from them is advice and information; do not expect them to do your job search for you. They will serve as guides, idea generators and information providers.
You may eventually turn an information provider into a personal "résumé distributor," but this only develops over time and after repeated positive contacts. Even if this relationship develops, remember that mentors cannot get you a job. They facilitate and provide information.
Request access to the MentorLink group (through LinkedIn). Once you are accepted into the MentorLink group, you can begin searching for a mentor. You can search MentorLink using a large number of criteria including career field, industry and geographic region. You can enter multiple search criteria at one time to narrow your results effectively and efficiently.
Provide a short personalized message. Once the mentor responds to you via email, the mentoring process can begin. It is very important that you respect mentors' time constraints. In your follow-up email be prepared to provide information about your background and career interests to aid them in their ability to help you. When you review MentorLink, you may find several individuals who meet your specific interests. You may contact as many mentors as desired, but stick to just two or three to start, until you get the hang of it.
The most effective way to initially contact a mentor is in writing, generally via email. Your email should explain the reason for your contact and may include a résumé if you are contacting the mentor directly – that is after the mentor responds to your initial expression of interest. This will allow the mentor time to gather any pertinent information you requested and to review your background and career interests.
In order to make this program work for you, present yourself in a fashion that allows mentors to assist you to the greatest possible degree. Give them all the information they will need to help you.
Your written correspondence should be concise and free from errors or abbreviations. You should use formal business writing, two to three paragraphs long.
The follow-up introduction should indicate that you are a UB School of Management student and are following up from the initial contact via MentorLink. You should indicate the type of information you are seeking in the subsequent paragraphs. Be very specific about the information that you are requesting. The more complete your email is, the more worthwhile your contact with the mentor will be. Ask if you can schedule a telephone call and offer several dates and times.
After your initial email you may decide to contact your mentor by telephone, either to arrange an appointment or to conduct an informational interview. In either scenario you need to be prepared. Introduce yourself and remind them of your initial contact. If you are calling to schedule an appointment, then explain that you are calling to arrange a convenient time when the mentor has 15-20 minutes to answer some career and industry related questions. Be prepared at this initial telephone call with specific questions; even if the mentor does not have time immediately, he/she will want to have an idea of the information you are seeking. It is very difficult to make a good impression if you are not prepared.
If you have previously arranged a specific time to call or meet a mentor, be sure to keep your "appointment."
Introduce yourself again and remind the mentor of any specific career or industry interests you had stated in your previous email or telephone call. At this point, let the conversation take its course. Do not be pushy. You should expect this to be the first of several interactions.
You should have a list of prepared questions that focus on no more than three to five topics. Ask for advice frequently and listen attentively, taking notes as you go.
A detailed list of questions is available and offers suggestions about questions you many have regarding the mentor's profession, industry and company.
Remember that this mentor has volunteered to help you. Someone who wants to help you in your job search is a great asset, so treat him or her as a valuable resource. Be sure to thank the mentors for their time.
You should close with a thank you and ask if you may keep mentors informed about your progress. Not only will this be important for your career exploration, but the mentor involved will appreciate your thoughtfulness. Perhaps later they will have additional thoughts and ideas to share with you, or may hear of a job opening.
Be sure to send a follow-up thank you to the mentor. See tips on writing a thank you email.
Avoid making common mistakes doing informational interviewing.
Have questions prepared ahead of time, click here to view 40 Questions to ask in an Informational Interview.