How to Find a Professional Mentor and Expand Your Network


Rachel Cezar, DVM, director of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, explains that the first step to expanding your professional network is signing up for this popular social media website.

"Well, I would say that if I can do a commercial, I would do one for LinkedIn," Rachel Cezar, DVM, director of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says. "Because I just think LinkedIn is amazing because there's so many, I have so many different connections on there.

And what's good too is that you can email your connections directly. It's a professional networking route that will say where they are at that time.

I've asked so many different individuals, just like for Zoetis, I was possibly interested in moving back to the Michigan area and so I saw there was a director there and so I emailed him and said 'Hey, you know, I'm interested in, I wanted to know how was it working out in that area?' And he immediately called me and was like 'Oh hey, yeah let's talk. I wouldn't definitely will talk to you about it.' Or even someone that I knew was interested in zoo medicine, because I didn't know specifics, and I go I think I know some individuals that are on my LinkedIn contacts, and I contacted them and said 'hey there's someone on here, someone that I know that may be interested in zoo medicine, would you mind talking to them?' and I gave them their contact information. So I always think those type of like professional networking routes is really good.

There is a time though you could end up talking to someone that may not be as, I guess, fortunate for you to talk to or maybe like kind of I really don't like my job and don't even consider coming here. So those don't work out too well because then I've had some individuals call me back and say yeah they were really disheartening and I didn't really have a good vibe with them to talk to them. So then I'll help them try to find someone else to talk to. I think that's the thing—just going out there and just asking and then seeing if someone is interested.

Because I know there's always those professional or formal mentor programs, but I always think that someone doesn't have to be your only mentor. It's just going out there and just talking to someone that has been in that area before and can give you the right advice. Because I would say that I have multiple mentors really because I just reach out to them and say 'hey I've got this issue. What do you think and what would you do in this situation?'"

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