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News & Blog > Mentoring & Advice > Ask An Alum: How to find an online mentor

Ask An Alum: How to find an online mentor

A practical guide on how to search for and connect with alumni via Ask An Alum. Our online self-matching mentoring tool for all alumni and students

What is Ask An Alum?

Ask An Alum is an online tool for alumni and students to self-match with an IDS Alumni Network Online Mentor for quick advice and support on a variety of careers and professional development topics. For example, help with relocating to a new country/region, preparing for an interview, writing an application, or getting industry specific help. 

Ask An Alum is useful for creating a space for impactful knowledge sharing without the pressure to develop a long-term relationship. 

It can also be a trial for a new one-on-one mentoring relationships and help alumni and students broaden their networks before committing to a longer-term mentorship. 

NB: For all types of help and advice IDS refers to those looking for help mentees and those offering help mentors. We also expect everyone using the IDS mentoring and advice programme to abide by the code of conduct outlined in the alumni-alumni mentoring code and the alumni-student code

Online Search

You need to login to this alumni website to use the online search and find members of the alumni network for careers and mentoring help. Once you are logged in go to the mentoring & careers page and you will see the mentoring and advice box (as below) near the top of the page.

The search results will only show those members who have volunteered to give advice and mentor. The results will not show people who have opted out, temporarily or permanently, mentors who have restricted their number of interactions and who have reached their limit, or people who do not meet the search criteria.

IDS Alumni and Students who need help with the online search can make an appointment with the alumni relations office for help.

IDS Featured Mentors

If you see a match with Featured Mentor next to their name (like Sian Morley-Smith in the example above) this means that they are one of our most committed mentors (usually around 15-20 people at any time if you want to find out more about what it takes to be a Featured Mentor please see the criteria list). You can search only for Featured Mentors by selecting Yes in the Featured Mentors box in the search.


On clicking the messaging button you will be able to select the type of help you would like from a drop down (CV Review, Career guidance, Answer to specific questions, Industry/sector specific help, Interview prep, Mentor relationship, Returning to work, Setting up a business, Relocation). You can then type a personalised message to send to your potential mentor/advice giver.

Ensure that your message is clear and precise, check your spelling and ensure that what you have written will be understood by the recipient, and use the recipient’s name in the email.

Try and reference something specific, either something about their work, or perhaps something that you have in common, like you are both from the same city or region. 

Keep it short, don’t ask too many questions, and remember to ensure that your emails contain as much meaning as they would do if you were face to face with the person. 

Always say thank you; both at the end of the email and in any responses.

More help on writing your first message.

What Happens Next

Your message is sent to the alumni mentor via email, they have the option to accept or decline the invitation to connect with you. If they accept they will message you back, if not you will receive a message from the alumni website to let you know to try your search again.

Once a successful match is made you will be emailed a feedback form to complete.

We expect that your advice seeking will be conducted primarily online, through email or other digital channels –like zoom, although there is the opportunity for a face to face meeting if you are in the same town or city.

Even if you are not expecting to have a 'traditional' mentor/meentee relationship you may find the the mentoring agreement useful to help you think through what advice you are asking for, and we expect everyone involved in the IDS Alumni Mentoring and Advice Programme to abide by the codes of conduct (alumni/alumni code and alumni/student code).

Discover Ask-an-Alum

Tips for success in your Ask-an-Alum mentoring session(s)

Initiating contact, more guidance for your first message

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