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Find a Mentor

Who can you turn to for guidance?

A mentor is someone who takes a personal interest in your success at learning and achieving your goals, and they’re in a position to help you do it.

Here's some advice from the Edupunk's Guide tutorial:

Look for real chemistry. Prominent people get lots of attempts to contact them, and you may not actually have that much in common with Oprah. You’d be better off finding someone who does what you want to be doing, whether worm compost or natural hairstyles. Look on Slideshare (, YouTube, Twitter and blogs to find the perfect person.

Reach out respectfully. The Internet age makes it easy to connect with people but that also means that people get many, many attempts to connect with them. I’ve found that the best way to connect with someone online is to ask a genuine question about his or her work.

Don’t be afraid to ask. Once you’ve exchanged a few emails or a phone call and established a real conversation with someone, you can ask them for a favor: to take a look at your learning plan or portfolio, to let you know about summer internships in that field, or even more broadly, to stay in touch and answer your questions. People like to feel helpful.

Mentoring is a two-way street. Don’t forget that as a less experienced person with enthusiasm and energy, you have something to offer your mentor as well. Maybe it’s research help, or help with a project. Maybe it’s just a younger person’s insight into a situation. Offering to help will let your mentor know that you appreciate them.

Go long and short. Classic mentorships will last for years, but you should also be alert to the opportunity to gain wisdom, good advice, and valuable connections in just one conversation.

Mark this task complete once you've found a mentor. In the meantime, tell us about your experiences reaching out to possible mentors.

Task Discussion

  • LearningChicka said:

    I consider my closest colleages (turned friends) to be my mentors already.  There are three in particular that have really contributed quite a load of information.  They've out taught me in areas where I haven't yet been able to return the favor with teaching them in a different area.  I am always looking for additional mentors in additional subjects and instances to add to and help.

    on Sept. 22, 2012, 7:44 a.m.
  • Stephen Wheeler said:

    This is the most demanding and daunting part of this challenge. It requires us to make the first move and reach-out, sometimes to people who we may find intimidating to approach, though I'm sure will turn out to be perfectly approachable.

    I think my biggest worry is asking someone to mentor me for free when, as my target people are nearly all academics, they do this sort of thing professionally.

    The discussions here about what a mentor is are very interesting.

    Everyone seems to have an issue with finding a mentor, specifically the relevance of having a single, subject specialist, mentor. Leah, Alison, Corbin and CCrawford seem to agree that building several deeper connections in their Personal Learning Network (PLN) would be more valuable.

    CCrawford pointed out that a mentor, rather than strictly being a subject specialist, could be someone to be accountable to and help keep you on track.

    This seems eminently sensible and probably closer to what is meant in the challenge descriptor of a mentor. I agree with Alison that we could frame the descriptor of the mentor to emphasize their role as someone to look after your progress and reduce the emphasis on their being a subject specialist. This is especially relevant if the Personal Learning Plan is wide ranging and ambitious.

    It seems clear that finding a mentor will take some time and effort to engage someone relevant and then build-up a relationship that will enable me to ask them to be my mentor, but as Alison says in the discussion below, reaching-out for mentorship is standard practice in this type of learning.

    on May 25, 2012, 5:50 a.m.

    AJC said:

    Well, that about sums it up!!

    on May 31, 2012, 1:37 p.m. in reply to Stephen Wheeler
  • Christopher Crawford said:

    I am retooling my personal learning plan to include Peace/Conflict Studies & Public Service as well as information about about politcal campaign- that way it would more closely resemble the work required for a traditional university degree.  However, I did not include genereal education type courses since I have already taken those in a traditional setting. If recommending this program to someone else I could easily ammend it to include Open Courseware courses in English and Statistics and include some P2PU courses like Writing for the Web and Webcraft, as well as math lessons from Khan Academy to replicate the generel ed background of a liberal arts program. 

    Mentors I have been in contact include local political figures as well as the local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) director. Several mentors for different subjects are necessary to cover the different facets of my personal learning plan.

    on May 10, 2012, 2:24 a.m.

    AJC said:

    I'm starting to see a trend in this task - that finding a mentor is a little old school. Rather, everyone here seems to be curating their personal learning networks to build deeper conections and cultivate a finer list of light-weight mentors. I almost wonder if we should rename this task to "Refine your personal learning network"...

    on May 10, 2012, 3:28 p.m. in reply to Christopher Crawford

    Christopher Crawford said:

    I think that is a great idea, Alison. I think it would be difficult for most of us to find a single mentor because most of our personal learning plans cross disciplines ( George Stephanopoulos would be the ideal campaing management mentor -dare to dream- but may not be that helpful with learning how to get county level volunteer fire departments to coordinate with the local Civil Air Patrol after a tornado, if my candidate wins and I get a job as liaison to the mayor. From what I remember, your and Leah's plans are also intersections of several traditional "subjects" like botony/design/ecology and education/game design/technology.)

    If there is anything I can do to help, let me know.

    on May 13, 2012, 9:50 p.m. in reply to AJC

    AJC said:

    Maybe we can brainstorm some edits to this task.

    Instead of find a mentor, perhaps it would be "Strengthen your PLN with mentors", and set the definition of mentors more loosely.


    on May 14, 2012, 2:16 p.m. in reply to Christopher Crawford

    Christopher Crawford said:

    I think one focus of the task should be around accountability. Someone that checks in every once in a while to whom you report your progress. The accountability person doesn't necessarilly have to be involved in your field, but is someone that is interested in you meeting your goals. That person doesn't have to be well versed in your subject, but will ask "why are you doing it this way?" -"how does this task fit into your big goal?" - subject matter experts are great, don't get me wrong, but almost everything you need to know could be learned from peers and other resources- but one thing that isn't easy to find in books, blog posts, and meet-up groups, is a Cheerleader/Taskmaster that will say, "what have you done this week to reach your goal?"

    on May 14, 2012, 3:45 p.m. in reply to AJC

    AJC said:


    It's kind of funny. I guess that is what the description of a mentor is already in this task. Maybe we don't need to change too much, but rather frame as someone who looks after your progress, and reduce the emphasis that they are an expert in your field.

    on May 15, 2012, 2:18 p.m. in reply to Christopher Crawford
  • Anonym said:

    Exactly, this the most important PLN.

    I am in search of one for years. 

    working.....on it.


    on April 10, 2012, 7:11 a.m.
  • Corbin Tarrant said:

    I am finding this step particularily difficult and am still stuck here. In order to increase my chances of finding a mentor(s) I am focusing on the previous task of building a personal learning network. Just this week I have started to get even more serious about this and deleted my facebook account as I found it to be a place where a lot of my time was wasted since rarely could I get productive conversations started. I have redefined my google+ circles and am focusing on building specific circles for topics I am studying. I am also going to assign myself weekly tasks of answering x number of questions on a couple different Q/A sites as this is an excellent way to connect with people as well.

    I am getting stuck on lernanta development as well and have been waiting all week for a reply to my questions in that study group so I can resolve my errors and continue to get familiar with the code.

    Does anyone else have any other recommendations for further building a strong personal learning network to the point of having people in it that could then become mentors?

    on March 23, 2012, 11:48 a.m.

    AJC said:

    Hey Corbin,

    I understand where you're at with finding a mentor and it seems to be the theme of this task that it's not such a black-and-white endeavor. I think it's time to rethink this task and rewrite it for folks who could benefit from a looser interpretation.

    re: Lernanta group - if there seems to be inactivity there then take your questions to the p2pu-dev list: ..You will get loads of answers there, for sure!

    on March 23, 2012, 1:52 p.m. in reply to Corbin Tarrant
  • Charles Thomas said:

    After contacting a few different people on the different challenges I am participating on I can I have a mentor!  IAmCorbin, who has already completed the Webcrafting challenge agreed to help me with any problems I might encounter. 

    It was a bit daunting to reach out to people, and while I have not heard back from most of the people I contacted, I have to remember that other people have lives outside of their computers toosmiley

    As to my progress, I've completed week one on my personal learning plan, and am ready to move on to week two. 

    Wish me luck!


    on Feb. 28, 2012, 8:50 a.m.

    AJC said:

    That's awesome! Reaching out is definitely a humbling process. Once you make the first step it becomes easier. For a lot of us who take advantage of mentors (in a good way) it becomes a standard practice in our learning. I think P2PU is a great place to make it easier for such people to find eachother.

    on Feb. 29, 2012, 7:12 p.m. in reply to Charles Thomas
  • wheresthepaparazzi said:

    having someone to talk to always helps

    on Feb. 20, 2012, 2:24 a.m.
  • wheresthepaparazzi said:

    having someone to talk to always helps

    on Feb. 20, 2012, 2:24 a.m.
  • Leah MacVie said:

    Although I love this concept and completely agree with all the points listed in Anya's book, I am finding this one a bit tough to do. I don't necessarily think my interests and ambitions necessarily need a formal mentor, right now. So, I decided to tackle this point a bit differently. I will identify 3 key members in my personal learning network that are involved with badges and strike up a conversation with them on social media. Then, I will ask for their advice when it comes to getting involved in the badge project. I'm not a designer or developer, so perhaps I can help out in another area- like documentation. Let's see how this goes....

    on Feb. 19, 2012, 2:02 p.m.

    AJC said:

    I think that's a fair use of the concept all together. I feel I have done similar, rather than pointed out one distinct, personal mentor.

    on Feb. 20, 2012, 6:12 p.m. in reply to Leah MacVie