You Need a Mentor

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to establish a mentor/protégé relationship with someone who is pursuing the career in which you are interested. Briefly, a mentor is someone who
offers the wisdom of her experience,
provides guidance, encouragement and feedback,
provides information on choices and options, and
acts as a role model.
You, of course, are the protégé. A mentor can be any age, either sex, and can be as close as your school building or as far away as your computer or "snail mail" can reach. You will have many mentors in your life. As a mid-school student, you can look for mentors at your school (your teachers), local high schools (teachers and students) or at the college level (generally college students who are majors in the field in which you want to major). A high school student can look to her teachers, college students or faculty, or people who are working in her field of interest.

Your job as a protégé is to be open to the knowledge, experience, and resources that your mentor can give you. Share your goals and objectives with your mentor. Your should receive realistic feedback and grow and build on that feedback. However, you are not a clone or copy of your mentor. While you will learn from and benefit from the mentor/protégé relationship, you will maintain your uniqueness as an individual.

How do you find a mentor? The best sources are often the closest - your parents and teachers. Professional organizations (like the New Mexico Network for Women in Science & Engineering) are another good resource. You can contact the university you would like to attend. Use the telephone book to find companies who are doing the type of work you would like to do. If you have access to a computer (if you don't, you should try your local public library) browse the Web. When you find a contact you want to make, your letter or E-mail should include the following:
your desire to participate in a mentor/protégé program
information about yourself (age, interests, grade level, classes you have taken)
your career goals, and
how to reach you.

Mary V. Bochmann
Federal Women's Program Manager
White Sands Missile Range, NM