7 Free Mentorship Programs That Will Transform Your Career Path

Everyone says you should find a mentor, but no one really tells you how to do that. Most advice is along the lines of checking your university’s career center for connections or asking someone you already know to mentor you. While this advice can be helpful for some people, if you’re anything like me, it hasn’t always worked out. What happens if your university’s career center doesn’t have any connections to people who could mentor you or if you don’t know anyone in your dream industry? It can feel like a dead end when you run into this problem, especially now that many events where you might have found a mentor have either been canceled or moved online due to the pandemic. 

Luckily, lots of free opportunities to find a mentor exist online. Here are seven mentorship programs you can join to boost your career.

  1. business women working together with coffee

    What is it?: Built by Girls WAVE is a mentorship program in which you receive support from a professional who shows you career possibilities and helps you develop the skills needed to land your first job or internship.

    Who is it for?: Female and nonbinary students in the United States between the ages of 15 and 22. You don’t need to have any prior experience, just a commitment to furthering your career and learning from someone. 

    How does it work?: You’re matched with a mentor based on an overlap in profiles that you both fill out. From there, you can choose to meet via video call, phone call, or in person. The program has guided discussion questions for each meeting you have with your mentor, but you don’t have to stick exclusively to those. I’ve been part of this program for almost two years now and all of my calls have been virtual with mentors from across the country. We’ve talked about all different things, from sample projects to resumes to networking.

    Commitment: You have to commit to meeting with your assigned mentor once a month for three months (three meetings total, so approximately three hours). After your three months are up, you’re more than welcome to stay in touch with your mentor, but it’s not required. 

  2. paintbrushes in pots on a table

    What is it?: Women Who Create is a mentorship program for women of color created by women of color. The program connects young women to mentors in creative fields.

    Who is it for?: The program is for people who identify as women of color and live in the U.S. Ideal mentees are interested in pursuing a career in a creative industry or are less than five years into the field, people who can accept different points of view, and people who want to work towards goals with a mentor. 

    How does it work?: You fill out a Google form to apply to be a mentee. They pair you with a mentor and you can connect with them either online or, if you’re in New York City, at one of their in-person events. 

    Commitment: You commit to bi-weekly meetings for 15 weeks. The program is guided but it’s flexible too, so it’s up to you how your relationship with your mentor develops. 

  3. Woman filming a group scene

    What is it?: The Latinas in Journalism Mentorship Program connects people interested in journalism, journalism students, and journalism professionals at all levels of their careers with mentors.

    Who is it for?: The program is open to Latina women and nonbinary Latinxs of all ages and experience levels.

    How does it work?: The website has a “Find a Mentor” page. There, you’ll see a directory of Latina journalists. You can go through the page, read about each person’s area of expertise, region, experience, etc., and then select someone who seems like a good fit. Once you’ve chosen that person, you book a free call with them (the length of the call varies) where you can discuss any relevant topics you’d like. 

    Commitment: None! You commit to talking with your selected mentor once and any other contact you have with them (or a new mentor) is up to you. 

  4. laptop coding

    What is it?: Re:create is an online mentorship program that intends to connect creatives at all different levels and across creative disciplines to help mentees develop skills and connect with industry professionals.

    Who is it for?: Creatives of all ages and locations.

    How does it work?: Look through the list of mentors to see if you find someone who shares your interests. The site recommends sending your chosen mentor a copy of your portfolio and a brief introduction and then wait until you hear back from them. However, before you can send your chosen mentor a message, you have to register for a re:create account. Once you hear back from your mentor, you can set up phone calls, video calls, or face-to-face meetings.

    Commitment: Mentorship is broken into three, six, nine, and twelve-month blocks. Though the site isn’t super specific about how this works, it seems like you, as the mentee, get to choose how many months you’d like to commit to.

  5. Person animating

    What is it?: ADPList is a platform that connects designers of all levels with design mentors. 

    Who is it for?: Designers across the globe.

    How does it work?: On ADPList’s “Find a Mentor” page, you’ll find tons of mentors with different areas of expertise, locations, topics of interest, and locations. From there, you can select a mentor who seems interesting and see their profile. If you think this mentor would be a good fit, you can schedule a time to meet with them or get in contact via email, depending on what method of contact the mentor has set up. 

    Commitment: None! You commit to talking with your selected mentor one time. Any other contact you have with them (or a new mentor) is up to you. 

  6. Two women with a laptop

    What is it?: The Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab provides mentorship opportunities for marginalized storytellers to accelerate their careers in film and TV through workshops, resources, and networking opportunities. 

    Who is it for?: Writers, actors, and aspiring creative executives who are over the age of 18.

    How does it work?: To join, you must submit an application through the Hillman Grad website prior to the application deadline. This year, the deadline is 11:59 p.m. PST on January 10, 2021. The program has different tracks for writing, acting, and executive development that each look a little different in terms of mentorship. In all of the tracks, you’ll have an opportunity to connect with industry experts and professionals.

    Commitment: You commit to 10 months of mentorship.

  7. What is it?: Mentoring Her is an online social mentoring network that connects mentors and mentees. Mentors and mentees can develop relationships to help each other grow in areas such as education, career, entrepreneurship, and empowerment.

    Who is it for?: Mentoring Her is for all women 13 years and up. Mentees in this program should desire growth, and be ready to ask questions and share ideas.

    How does it work?: You register for an account on their website either through email, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Once you’re registered you can click the “find mentor or mentee” button, where you’ll see potential matches based on your profile that you can connect with. You can then chat with your mentor via email, phone, or video call.

    Commitment: You commit to at least 30 minutes a week for one year virtually (chat, phone, or email). Mentoring styles vary, though, so your connection with your mentor might require a different level of commitment.

Mentorship isn’t easy to find, but there are tons of opportunities out there that you can do virtually and for no cost at all.