Balancing classes, a part-time job, an internship, homework and social activities can be tough. So when the topic of finding a mentor comes up, many college students shrug off the idea because there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
You may also be wondering, “Do I really need a mentor?”
The answer is no. Having a mentor won’t make-or-break your chance at career success.
However, having a good mentor can be extremely helpful when you’re looking for career advice, job opportunities or even just a role model who has already succeeded in the career field you’d like to enter.
Here are some helpful insights to help you find the perfect mentor.
How can a mentor help me?
There are many ways a mentor can help you, and you can often tailor your mentor/mentee relationship depending on what you hope to get out of it.
It’s best to be very specific about your goals when looking for a mentor. Do you want to find somebody to help you get your foot in the door in the accounting industry? Or maybe you’re looking for somebody to help you with your resume and cover letters?
Karen Burns, author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, writes that mentoring can differ depending on the needs of the mentee. “It can be a monthly lunch, a quarterly phone call, a weekly handball game, or merely a steady e-mail correspondence. Your mentor doesn’t even have to live in your city or region.”
Giving your mentor a detailed description of what you would like them to help you with is often the best method of handling this type of relationship. Think about what you need from them and then don’t be afraid to ask for it!
Kelsey Mulvey, a student at Boston University, found a mentor in one of her bosses. “She’s super supportive and is encouraging me to follow my dreams, as clichéd as it sounds. I don’t think a mentor is absolutely necessary, but if you find someone who truly believes in you, it’s great to have that kind of support system.”
Where can I find a mentor?
Oftentimes, the most difficult aspect of mentorships is finding a mentor who’s right for you. In college, however, there are numerous resources students can use to find a mentor:
• Current or former professors
• Bosses/supervisors from jobs or internships
• School-organized mentorship programs (where you can apply to be placed with a specific mentor, ask your academic advisors if your school has one)
• Professional organizations (both on and off campus)
Alaine Perconti, a student at Miami University of Ohio, was connected with multiple mentors when she joined a professional business fraternity at her school.
“Learning from their experiences, even if they were different from my own, has proven invaluable as I have progressed through the business school and have begun seeking internships for the summer,” she says. “I imagine joining any student organization would be a good start to finding a mentor of your own.”
In a much different setting, Cassie Potler found a mentor after graduating from James Madison University and starting Teach For America. “My mentor Margi taught kindergarten, just like me, across the hall. As soon as I walked in, she took me under her wing and promised to help me ‘survive’ my first year teaching. Margi was more than a mentor to me, she also became one of my closest friends.”
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