A career planning and employment resource for people who are blind or partially sighted

Finding Mentors

Finding mentors is not as difficult as it may seem. Many seasoned employers enjoy helping out younger or less experienced individuals so that they can learn their trade or techniques. The key is to identify appropriate candidates and then reach out to them in such a way that they understand you are interested in learning from them – not usurping them!

You may want to have two categories of mentors: those who share the characteristic of someone who is blind or partially sighted and those who are fully sighted. It will likely be more challenging to find someone who is blind or partially sighted doing the kind of work that you want to do than to find someone who is sighted. Strategies for finding both kinds of mentors are discussed below.

Finding mentors who are blind or partially sighted will likely be more challenging. You can start with online research using websites like CareerConnect Canada or CareerConnect in the US. While the majority of the CareerConnect Canada mentors are North American (most are from the United States) there are some mentors from other countries too. In the meantime, visit the Success Stories section to see profiles on people who are blind or partially sighted who are enjoying meaningful employment.

If the type of work you’re interested in doing occurs in the North American labour market and you can’t find someone from your country, you may want to reach out to whomever you can find in the CareerConnect Canada database to simply get an idea of how that person performs on the job, what tools they use, whether they received any industry-specific training, etc.

Or try doing a web search with specific key words like “attorney blind Scotland” or “seamstress blind Cambodia.” If you have partial sight, you might enter “accountant with partial sight (or vision impairment) in Spain” or “computer game developer partial sight Japan”.

If you don’t have easy access to the Internet or prefer to interact with people face-to-face, you might consider attending a consumer conference (where members of consumer organizations made up of blind or partially sighted people gather). At some of these conferences, you may find groups of similarly employed people – attorneys, teachers, technology trainers, etc.

If you don’t know of a consumer organization in your geographic area, you may want to ask a counsellor or social worker at a local agency, society, or organization who works with people who are blind or partially sighted to direct you to people with similar disabilities doing the kind of work you want to be doing.

Finding sighted mentors will be easier simply because there are more of them. You can do some online research to find out who in your community hires workers in your area of interest, and then approach those companies for leads to prospective mentors.

Consider attending a trade show or professional conference and network with attendees to see if any of the people you meet have compatible personalities and the skills that you are interested in gaining. The key to seeking out a mentor is to express your interest in learning from the seasoned worker and make clear that you are not a threat to them (i.e. you’re not trying to take their job).

Some professional organizations maintain lists of volunteers who are willing to mentor new workers in the field. If you belong to a professional organization, check with them to see if your group has such a listing of prospective mentors. If you don’t belong to a professional organization, find out if there’s a place where people doing the kind of work you’re interested in congregate and see if you can join the group to get to know them and let them get to know you. Once people get to know you, you can ask about mentoring opportunities.​​​