How to Find Community & Mentorship

Higher Ed Leadership Series

You’ve stepped into a leadership role in higher education, and your position of authority and influence is a testament to your hard work and dedication. It’s common, though, to feel overwhelmed and uncertain when faced with new challenges. After speaking with dozens of women of color in higher education leadership roles, it became clear that a lack of community and mentorship was a significant issue.

Many of you feel isolated and without the support network to navigate your new responsibilities effectively. After all, maybe you just moved to an entirely new institution (or a new state) to accept this new leadership role, or perhaps you’re starting with an entirely new team, and you’re not sure who to look to for guidance.

That’s why I’m here today to guide you on how to find a mentor and where to find the supportive community you desire. 

This blog post will explore the definition of mentorship: what it is and what it isn’t, offer insights into how to find a mentor and how to be a good mentee, and even share a new resource for connecting with the community you’ve been longing for. 

What is a Mentor?

Maybe you already know the value of a mentor, but let’s start from the basics. A mentor is someone who provides guidance, support, and wisdom based on their own experiences. The benefits of mentorship are immense. Mentorship can offer valuable insights, help you set goals, and navigate challenges in your professional journey. 

It’s important to understand that a mentor is not a therapist or a problem solver. While they can offer guidance and support, it’s ultimately up to you to take ownership of your career and decision-making process.

How To Find The Right Mentorship

So you know the value a mentor can bring to your career, but you’re not sure where to start when it comes to finding one. Finding mentorship in leadership can be challenging! 

These five tips will help you find a mentor: 

Ask Yourself: Who Do I Look Up To?

Reflect on individuals that you admire within or outside your organization. Consider their leadership style, expertise, and values. These could be senior leaders, colleagues, or industry professionals. 

Do The Research: Identify your needs, Know Your Goals (Short + Long-Term)

Clarify what you hope to gain from mentorship. Are you seeking guidance on a specific skill set, career advancement, or work-life balance? Set both short-term and long-term goals to guide your mentorship journey. 

Be Cognizant of Your Existing Network

Your existing network can be a valuable resource — don’t discount it! Reach out to former colleagues, mentors, or professional contacts who may be able to connect you with potential mentors. 

Have an Elevator Pitch Ready

Prepare a brief introduction highlighting your background, achievements, and what you hope to gain from mentorship. This will help you articulate your needs and make a strong impression when reaching out to potential mentors. 

Join A Peer Support Group

Consider joining a peer support group specifically tailored to women of color in higher education leadership, such as our Legacy Builders Circle. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals facing similar challenges can provide invaluable support and camaraderie. 

Tips For A Successful Mentorship

Embarking on a leadership journey can be daunting, which is why we want to highlight the importance of mentorship. Equally important, though, is understanding the role you play in fostering a successful mentor-mentee relationship. 

Being a good mentee involves proactive engagement, clear communication, and a willingness to learn and grow—- all important qualities of a successful leader as well. Here are some key tips to help you make the most of your mentorship experience. 

  • Remember Your Goals: Stay focused on your objectives and communicate them clearly with your mentor. This will help guide your discussion and ensure you’re making progress towards your aspirations. 
  • Meet Consistently: Regular meetings with your mentor are crucial for building rapport and continuity. Schedule consistent check-ins to discuss your progress, challenges, and goals. 
  • Set an Agenda: Come prepared to each meeting with specific topics or questions you’d like to address. Having a clear agenda ensures your time together is productive and focused. 
  • Be open to feedback; Positive or Constructive: Feedback is a gift, whether praise for your accomplishments or constructive criticism to help you grow. Approach feedback with an open mind and a willingness to learn. 
  • Take Notes as You’re Meeting, and Follow Up Via Email: Document key takeaways and action items from your meetings. Following up with a summary email reinforces your commitment and helps track progress over time. 
  • Decide on an End Date: Establish a timeline for your mentorship, whether it’s a set number of months or until specific goals are achieved. This ensures both you and your mentor have clarity on the duration and scope of the relationship. 
  • Establish Boundaries: Remember That This Relationship is Not a Therapy Session: Respect your mentor’s time and expertise by staying focused on professional development topics. While it’s natural to form a personal connection, maintain professionalism and boundaries in your interactions. 
  • Consider Establishing a Board of Mentors: Seek Different Perspectives: Diversify your mentorship network by seeking guidance from individuals with varied backgrounds and expertise. This can provide you with a range of perspectives and insights to inform your decision-making. What better way to do this than to connect with the women in our Legacy Builders Circle
  • Practice gratitude: Express appreciation for your mentor’s time, support, and guidance. A simple thank you can go a long way toward fostering a positive and mutually beneficial relationship.


In your journey as a leader in higher education, finding community and mentorship is essential for your growth and success. By proactively seeking out mentors, joining supportive networks, and embracing the role of a mentee, you can navigate challenges with confidence and resilience. 

Remember, you’re not alone on this journey, and your unique perspective and contributions are invaluable. Here’s to building a legacy of leadership and empowerment together.

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