How to Write a Letter When Applying for a Mentoring Program

Student mentor helping young girl with homework.
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Being a mentor is a meaningful way to share your talents and gifts with someone seeking extra support. If you’re applying to be a mentor, your application letter should tell the selection committee your personal story and state why you’re an ideal role model for a mentee. Include specific examples of your skills, and don’t hesitate to show your eagerness to help others. A letter that indicates how you’ve benefited from being mentored, and your desire to pay it forward, will put you in a favorable position.

1 Express a Burning Desire

Use your first paragraph to communicate why it’s important to you to serve as a role model. Being a mentor is a specialized position that requires an interest in serving others, so it’s important to express your passion for this responsibility in your letter. Your enthusiasm will be enticing to the selection committee and convey why you’d be a good match for someone seeking a mentor. A mentoring role usually requires a long-term commitment, so include that you’ll stick with the position and give it your all.

2 Cite Your Previous Experience

An effective application letter includes a paragraph detailing specialized experience necessary to work with the population served by the mentoring program. For example, if you’re going to serve as a mentor for inner-city youth, indicate how your background has prepared you for this. Include any leadership or advocacy role that showcases your ability to educate and develop people. Even a customer service position or supervisory role at a fast-food restaurant provides evidence that you know how to train or teach others. A mentor needs to be able to easily develop a relationship with others, so experience that demonstrates your interpersonal skills is a plus.

3 Mention Any Special Skills

Core skills of mentoring include trust building, the ability to listen and most importantly, empowering mentees to solve their own problems. Showcase these skills in your letter so that you’ll be a standout to the selection committee. Most mentoring programs have a unique purpose, so writing about your skills that match this is a plus. For example, if you’ll be mentoring children who speak Spanish as their first language, discuss how you can help them hone their English skills. Similarly, write about ways you’ve helped others with applicable needs such as career exploration, time management and goal setting.

4 Tell How You'll Make a Difference

Finish your letter with how you plan to make a difference in the life of your mentee. This may include investing in their needs and interests. Your zeal for helping others is an ideal way to make a positive impression on the selection committee. Don’t forget to discuss how being a mentor will help you, too. You can relate this to your particular career path. For example, if you want to be a teacher, let the committee know that being a mentor will help you develop your teaching skills and provide insight into how young people learn and develop.

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.