By: Aastha Gupta
The boy who lived had Dumbledore. The Avatar had his team of benders and gurus. Obi Wan Kanobi had Yoda. Throughout fiction and real life, wise mentors have guided people in becoming their best selves.
The pre-med track is long and arduous; it is also a path that can look vastly different for different individuals. Having a mentor can be an immense help on this rocky road while also providing an important support system in one’s life. The only problem? In real life, mentors don’t often find us as easily as they do in fiction.
In real life, it often feels as though mentors can only be found through previous connections. And for those of us with few connections in the pre-med world, obtaining counsel can seem like a far away dream. However, this does not always need to hold true. There are so many ways one can go about finding a mentor, and we can often find these gurus in the least likely places.
In this article, I will provide some tips on finding a valuable pre-med mentor to aid you in your journey.
Having a good idea of what you would like from the relationship is a great first step, since this allows you to home in on where to look for mentors.
Would you like to talk to them on occasion for advice? Would you like to hopefully be offered a position? Determining your expectations for your mentor-mentee relationship from the start is helpful in knowing what you want and maintaining the relationships and expectations.
Finding the best mentors comes down to one thing: RESEARCH!
Utilizing your expectation, you can begin to research people near you who are where you would like to be in the future or know about the path you wish to take.
Look for people in your school (alumni, students, professors). Look for people in your area. Take walks (maybe with your dog) in different areas (you’d be surprised how many different people you can meet that way.) You can also meet people at events and conferences, so work on your networking skills and get out there!
Once you have your list of possible mentors, it's time to ACT. Draft an email explaining not only who you are but also what you want and possibly a time to meet.
If you can, offer them something in return for their aid. It can be something as simple as volunteering your time. Additionally, try to appeal to your hopeful mentor in a creative way that makes you stick out in their mind!
Showing off your personality and skills can make you stand out as a potential mentee. By offering them something in return and being creative, you will show what you can bring to the relationship. Like many relationships, work is required from both sides, and the correct plan of action can ensure your hopeful mentor knows you’re willing to put in the work to create a fruitful relationship.
Unfortunately, it's going to happen. Someone will say ‘no.’ But this is not the end. Follow up with this person and perhaps a different relationship can form. They can become a part of your network, or if you continue to follow up and build a connection, a mentor.
Don’t let one ‘no’ be the end of the line and know that people have so much to offer, even if it's not what you first expected or wanted. Yes, at the end of the day, there will be those who may ghost you or respond in unhelpful ways, but don’t ever let a ‘no’ be the end of the conversation when usually it is the beginning of one.
Research will lead you to many potential mentors, but they can also be found in more unique places. Some universities will have mentoring programs, specifically for pre-med students. Take advantage of these programs and let them help you!
Sometimes you may already have a mentor in your life. Ask the people around you questions and vocalize your ambitions, and you’ll be surprised how many connections can be formed by simply showing an interest. Perhaps you won’t find a mentor until later in life, or perhaps you already found one. Always be looking and you’ll never know what you’ll find.
The mentor-mentee relationship can be extraordinarily helpful for pre-med students who have a long journey ahead of them. It is true - finding a mentor can often be difficult, but it is not impossible. And it is more than worth the time and effort. From these relationships, you don’t just get advice or a name in your followers list on LinkedIn, but also a friend and connection. Now set out into the world and find that mentor who will help you unlock your potential!
About the Author:
For her 18+ years on Planet Earth, Aastha Gupta has developed a passion for reading and writing, often imagining herself as having superpowers. Although the powers of the Flash were undoubtedly out of reach, her love of science led her to become a pre-med at UCONN. Aastha has written for the college newspaper and has always enjoyed telling stories. As a student of science, she understands the associated challenges and hopes to help others along their journeys into medicine.
Have any questions about finding a pre-med mentor? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll respond to you personally!