Finding a Mentor
Having a mentor during dental school is an important part of your leadership development process. Here are some quick, simple ideas to keep in mind when you begin looking for a mentor:
- The mentor should be someone who has your best interest at heart. Often, mentor relationships grow organically from already established relationships. Maybe it’s your childhood dentist, a faculty member from school or someone you met along the way. Keep in mind this person doesn’t have to be an employer or someone you potentially buy out. So long as they are more experienced than you and care about you, the basis for this relationship is already set.
- Make sure to follow up with your mentor—in person, a phone call or e-mail all work well. There’s an old saying in sales that goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Basically, don’t expect them to randomly reach out to you to offer advice.
- Make sure this is someone that you get along with. Your relationship will grow with your mentor. Think of your mentor as a colleague. You need to be able to bounce ideas off them and ask questions that might feel silly.
- Mentors may come and go depending on where you are in life. The person who mentors you throughout dental school may not be the person that mentors you after graduation. Keep an open mind and always be looking for mentors. More than one mentor is fine.
Communicating with Your Mentor
- In person: Make your first contact with a possible mentor in-person. Introduce yourself by telling them your name and relative dental experience. Tell them what connection/similarities/interests you may have in common. This will allow the mentor to put a face with the name when you follow up with an e-mail/phone call.
- E-mail: Keep it short. If you go into too much detail about yourself or your aspirations, your reader will feel overwhelmed and may be less willing to help you. Or, they may take much longer to respond because they need more time to read through your e-mail. See sample e-mails below.
- Social media: Know your mentor’s social media experience. Your mentor may or may not be accustomed to using social media. It is okay to use and very beneficial if both parties are on the same page. Be cautious with your social media. Know who your audience is when posting, commenting, etc. If you do not want everyone to know or see it—do not post it.
Sample e-mail to your teacher or guest lecturer:
Dear Dr. _________,
I hope this e-mail finds you well. Thank you for that informative lecture you presented to my class yesterday. You mentioned that you have been actively involved in organized dentistry for more than 10 years. If possible, I would love to meet up with you for coffee sometime to learn about how you became involved in organized dentistry, since that is one of my aspirations as well. I understand that you are very busy, so if you are unable to, I completely understand.
Thank you very much.
Sample e-mail to someone you’ve met at a meeting:
Dear Dr. _________,
I hope this e-mail finds you well. It was wonderful to meet you at _________. I enjoyed talking to you/hearing your presentation about _______. From our discussion/your presentation, I sense that we have similar goals. I’m especially interested in your continued involvement in organized dentistry. I understand that your time is very valuable, but I was hoping that we might set aside some time soon to meet for coffee/schedule a phone chat/exchange e-mails. If you’re not available, I understand and hope to stay in contact in the future.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sample e-mail to a part-time faculty member or a dentist you met:
Dear Dr. _________,
I hope this e-mail finds you well. It was wonderful to work with you during _________. From our discussion, I can see that we have similar ideas. I was especially interested in speaking with you about _________. If possible, I would love to follow up with you and continue our discussion over coffee/via e-mail/via phone, but I understand that your time is limited. I hope to hear from you soon!
Developing a Relationship with Your Mentor
- Stay in contact. Ask your mentor what is the best way to keep in touch with him/her. Keep updated on accomplishments, activities, etc.
- Attend similar events together (i.e., CE courses, basketball game, etc.).
- Ask questions.
Mentorship in ASDA Publications