Many mentees are looking for a mentor who is like themselves in some particular way: a person with whom they feel commonality. Seeking "someone like me" can cover a broad range of characteristics. In many years of hearing candidates talk about wanting to be mentored by "someone like me", characteristics mentioned included (in no particular order):
Age - Gender - Race or Ethnicity - Professional Area, Career Focus - Taste or Style, Aesthetic Values - Social or Economic Standing - Morals, Ethical Context - Religious or Spiritual Beliefs - Academic Standing, Particular Schools Attended - Common Hobbies, Sports, Memberships - Accomplishments and Experience (Where They Are in Their Journey) - Language or Languages Spoken - Hierarchical Status or Political Power - Sexual Orientation - Family or Marital Status: Parent or Single, Married or Divorced or Widowed - Nationality or Citizenship (Origin or Current) - Health, Physical Illness or Impairment - Military Experience or Status.
Surprisingly, although this is a long list and covers much of human experience, it does not address a primary consideration in making a mentoring match. That is Availability. How well the potential mentor's and mentee's schedules match (and their flexibility to accommodate each other) is frequently a deciding factor. Time requirements are often the first issue raised by a potential mentor: how long? how often? exactly when? A mentor seemingly perfect in all other respects who is not available to the mentee is a bad match. If the mentor and mentee start their relationship with open hearts and minds and meet regularly, they will find common ground, even if their characteristics are not otherwise aligned. Image Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson