Don’t Rely On Luck: Finding A Mentor Takes Hard Work


Being lucky matters. That’s the over-arching theme that I’ve been hearing from world-class researchers all year.

This semester, I’m in a class designed as an orientation to the world of research. Each week, we have a seminar-style conversation with professors who are among the best of the best in their fields, and each week they stress the importance of getting a foot in the door at the right place at the right time.

However, and perhaps out of modesty, they claim they were just “in the right place at the right time.” This seems to obscure the point. Networking is often a conscious act: one that involves putting oneself in the right place at the right time rather than passively awaiting the perfect opportunity. These same researchers stress the value of knocking on doors, sending emails, going to events, and making coffee dates. They reveal the value of personal connections and name recognition, and the importance of having a mentor.

These things don’t “just fall into place.” Mentor-mentee relationships take work, and being persistent does, too. And they all pay off. After all, you can’t be in the right place at the right time if you don’t take the initiative to show up!

Tips to work on creating your own luck:

    •     Think of someone who is where you would like to be. Learn as much as you can about how they got there.


    •     Put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with people — its a scarier idea to not try! The worst that can happen is nothing (which is what is certain to happen if you don’t try!)


    •     Don’t get discouraged. Not everyone you meet is going to lead to your dream job. Be patient and always work on expanding your network. It will pay off in a multitude of ways.


                      Pay it forward. Work on making connections for others, too!


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