If you’ve had a great mentor, you already know that it can be a life-changing experience.
There’s really no way to repay a mentor except to “pay it forward,” meaning that someday you should do the same thing for someone.
However, you can always offer your mentor a sincere thank you.
Writing a letter is a great way to do this since it really shows that you took some time over this task. It can also give your mentor something tangible as a token of your appreciation.
But how do you begin? How do you convey the depth of your appreciation?
In this article, we’ll help you write the perfect thank-you letter to your mentor.
How do you write a thank-you letter to your mentor?
When you are writing a thank-you letter to your mentor, make it a physical letter instead of an email. Say why you are writing the letter, and name specific things that they did for you that were helpful. Maintain a warm tone throughout.
Elements that your thank-you letter should have
Every thank-you letter should be sincere and unique, but there are a few elements that they should all include.
Make your thank-you letter to your mentor a physical letter
Could you write a heartfelt email to your mentor, conveying all the same points mentioned below?
You absolutely could, but it wouldn’t mean as much.
Although it might seem old-fashioned, there is nothing quite like receiving a postal letter to really make someone feel appreciated.
It shows that you took the time to get a nice notecard or paper and a stamp, write the letter and mail it.
What if your handwriting is terrible?
You really should try to write the letter by hand, but if it’s going to be completely illegible, the next best thing is to print it out and send it.
At the very least, you should sign your name.
When to write a thank-you letter to your mentor
You can write a thank-you letter to your mentor at any time, but probably the most appropriate times are when there is a particular milestone.
For example, you might write the letter when the mentorship is coming to its end or when you land an important job or another big accomplishment that you credit at least in part to their mentorship.
How to begin a thank-you letter to your mentor
Getting started can be the hardest part when you’re trying to write something important.
Remember that just as you would do more than one draft if you had an important writing project for school or work, you can do that with this letter as well.
Of course, you don’t have to do lots of rewrites or anything, but allowing yourself to produce a first draft before you write the actual letter can allow you to reduce your anxiety about getting started.
Begin your letter with a semi-formal opening even if you are very close to your mentor.
Write “Dear” followed by their name instead of just “Hey” as you might at the start of a casual email.
Then, explain why you are writing the letter, which will probably be the event that precipitated the letter in the first place.
In this opening paragraph, you might want to find another way to say “I am reaching out to you.”
What to put in a thank-you letter to your mentor
When you are writing the thank-you letter, you should be as specific as possible.
Spend some time before you start writing thinking about what those specific points are that you want to make.
You might mention a particular day that was important to you or something that they said to you that was meaningful.
You could also mention an approach or technique they used that taught you a lot.
In your closing, you could say how you are going to put their ideas into practice in your future endeavors.
Your letter should be friendly but not overly casual. In other words, this is not the place to write “thank youuu.”
Thank-you letter to your mentor: Example 1
Here’s a letter that a high school student might write to an adult in the community who mentored her:
Dear Mr. Grant,
I’m writing to thank you for mentoring me during my last two years of high school. You really helped me focus on my goals for going to college and identify the steps I needed to take to get admitted to the college of my dreams. Thanks to you, I’ll be headed off to Harvard this fall!
There were many ways in which you helped me, but one that really stands out for me is about a year ago when we sat down in the coffee shop we went over my options for college. When I didn’t believe in myself enough to apply to Ivy League universities, you told me I had it in me to succeed, and you were right.
I don’t believe it would have been possible without you, and as I look ahead to my next few years in college, I will keep everything in mind that you taught me. I hope that someday I’m able to be as helpful to a young person as you were to me.
Thank-you letter to your mentor: Example 2
Here’s an example of a thank-you letter written by a college student whose mentor helped her get an important internship:
I want to thank you for your help in preparing my application for the internship at The Atlantic and for writing one of my recommendations. As an aspiring writer, this is one of the most exciting and significant milestones of my life, and you were central to my success.
You have always encouraged me to reach higher than I thought I could and to be unafraid of failure. I think that lack of fear may be the most important lesson I learned from you because it has given me the courage to try so many things, this internship included.
I look forward to telling you about everything that I learn at the internship this summer. I’m sure that even from afar, your wise words will continue to guide me.
Thank-you letter to your mentor: Example 3
Adults in professional positions can have mentors as well. The letter writer below is thanking a professional contact for his assistance.
I’m reaching out to thank you for your mentorship over the past two years at The Omega Corporation. You really helped me focus and identify the areas where I needed to improve, and you also helped me understand my strengths.
While many things you did for me were helpful, I think the most important was the day you sat down with me and talked me through my short-, medium- and long-term goals. That really helped me understand how to articulate those goals and start working toward them in a way I never really grasped before.
As I move into my new position managing my department, I’ll be thinking back on the conversations we had. I only hope that I can provide the same valuable guidance in the future to a new employee that you did for me.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.