Many believe that participating in mentoring programs will automatically introduce them to someone who can help advance them in life. Thinking this way is valid, however, more goes into choosing a mentor than just the benefits they offer. If you are only looking to connect with a person who can help advance your career than I suggest go to a networking event. If you want someone to help guide you, listen to your issues, and influence decisions, than you are on the right path to finding a mentor.
First, I must acknowledge having multiple mentors is not harmful. Most think only one mentor is necessary while others would rather have multiple mentors to talk about varying issues. Personally, I grew up with multiple mentors who had different views. The different views helped me to see an issue from different perspectives. I made sure I was well informed by all my mentors before making a potential life changing decision. Obviously, deciding the adequate number of mentors is a personal decision and can only be made through self-reflection.
Mentoring programs are great at introducing members to mentors who have signed up to give back to the community. If one goes to introductory events through these programs, knowing what to look for is important. Even if you choose a mentor outside of these programs it is of great importance to know what qualities/traits you admire. Making sure your values and those of your mentors align is the only way the partnership will be effective. Again, know what qualities/traits you value will only be learned through self-reflection.
Having a mentor is a necessity. A mentor is someone who can help you fight through the tough moments in life. Or, a mentor is someone to give advice on any issue one will be faced with. Mentoring programs are a great source to introduce mentors/mentorees; they should not be used to find an individual to help in career/college advancement. Once the qualities/traits admired have been defined, the processes to find a mentor will be easier and more effective.