Articles & Resources

Society for Health Psychology

Cultivating Mentoring Relationships

Early Career Professionals, Professional Development

By Josh Wiley, PhD

Not everyone wants a mentor, even if everyone could probably use one. But you do. So how do you cultivate one?

  • Don’t choose a stranger. Think about people you know, people you’ve worked alongside, people who know your work, people you admire, and people who understand you and your experience. You’ll have a lot more success if you start with people you look up to.
  • Know what you need. Start with what you know and drill down to what you don’t. Focus on that. You need to show that you’re willing to do the work, not waste time.
  • Do a test run. Before you ask someone to mentor you, start by asking them if they’ll give you advice on something small. Those results will go a long way toward showing you what to expect from them as a mentor.
  • Ask for what you need… eventually. Don’t overestimate your abilities, but do lead with a reasonable benefit to the mentor. What do you have to offer? A common understanding of shared goals and mutual benefits goes a long way.
  • Follow-up. Don’t drop the ball, don’t get cold feet, and don’t disappear.