According to Marquette University, the best way to ask someone to be a mentor is to be direct and specific. Whether the mentor is in the academic or professional realm, the request for a mentor opportunity needs to include the exact nature of the mentor relationship, any desirable outcomes and the time commitment on behalf of the mentor. An informal interview needs to predate a formal request for a mentor.
Before asking a professional or faculty member to be a mentor, the person requesting a mentor needs to conduct research on the potential mentor. Mentor relationships with positive outcomes align mentor and mentee interests and goals. A mentor needs to be in the same career path or conduct the same research to find the best fit. An informal interview allows the potential pair to define common interests. After the informal interview, a follow-up meeting is the appropriate time to make a direct request for a mentor. The request includes expectations of the mentor relationship and the frequency of meetings.
According to Marquette University, many potential mentors are already busy. A negative response to a mentor request is often a scheduling issue and not a lack of desire to be a mentor.