Often, people think that a mentor is someone who has to be their mentor forever. That’s not always the case. If you find a mentor(s) for the duration of your career, then consider yourself lucky.
You can ask someone to be your mentor for a specific time frame or to teach you about a specific topic. If you arrange such a mentor/protégé relationship, talk with your prospective mentor and come to an agreement on the following things:
1) Expectations – What is it you’re looking to learn from him? Have a specific topic(s) before you ask someone to be your mentor. If you don’t have an idea of what you want to learn, you may end up disappointed. You may want to learn about budgeting, but without any guidance ahead of time, he may start teaching you about something completely different that he thinks is important. If you’re not quite sure what you want to learn, ask others (professors, people you know in the industry, etc.) what they think are important things to know for people starting in the sports industry.
2) Meetings – Agree on how many formal meetings or phone discussions the two of you will have. A prospective mentor may work better off a set schedule and be more willing to say yes if he knows how much time it will take up on his calendar.
3) Time Frame – Set a time frame for the mentorship with a specific end date. Especially if your prospective mentor is high up on his company’s organizational chart, he is going to be very busy. It may be easier for him to say ‘yes’ if the time frame is finite. You don’t want it to be a situation where it seems like you’re looking for another parent and asking him to be your mentor for life. Again, if you relationship develops into one where that person remains a lifelong mentor, be grateful.
Most people I know, including me, have had a number of mentors throughout their life, not just one. I have people who have been long-term mentors and others who were mentors for only a few months. Either way, mentors often teach you some of the most valuable lessons of your career. They have for me.