Finding a mentor in college is one of the best ways to set yourself up to success. Throughout your college years and beyond, a mentor can provide you with guidance and advice related to your career path and professional development. A mentor can also be a link to a larger network of professionals in the field you plan on entering post-graduation. But how do you go about finding a mentor in college? Here are a few tips.
Talk to Your Professors
So often, students sit through class, day after day, but barely interact with their instructors. However, your professors are there for you as a resource. You should feel comfortable asking them questions in class and after class. Attending office hours is a great opportunity to ask more questions and get to know your professors in a less formal environment. Not every professor will become a mentor, but you may find that you simply “click” with one and end up with a valuable mentor/mentee relationship.
Join clubs on campus related to your major. If you’re an engineering student, for example, you can join engineering clubs. If you’re a social science major, join a social science club. These clubs bring students together, but they are also usually overseen by a faculty mentor or mentors. As you get to know these faculty club leaders, you may find one who you connect with and can for a more personal mentor relationship with over time.
Join an Honors Society
On most campuses, there are several honors societies which you can join. Research these various honors societies, and decide which one will best suit your needs. Ideally, an honors society should offer various opportunities for scholarships and internships, along with access to mentors. Once you’re a member, the honor society should be able to give you a list of alumni who have specifically volunteered to mentor students. You can meet with a few of these volunteer mentors, talk about your career aspirations, and see which mentor feels like the best fit.
Another way to find a mentor is to step outside your immediate college setting. Look for community organizations that are seeking volunteers. This works best of the volunteer organization provides services related to your major. For example, if you are an environmental science major, you may want to join a group of volunteers who clean up local waterways. In these groups, there are bound to be members who are older, more professionally experienced, and share your interests. Over time, you may naturally form a mentor/mentee relationship with one of these individuals.
Become an Intern
Sometimes, students are resistant to accept an internship if the position is not a paid one. But non-paying internships tend to pay off over time, in other ways. When you work as an intern, you get to know the managers and leaders at the company. You may find one of these individuals who you really connect with, and you can then ask them to be your mentor as you continue with your studies. Mentors you find via an internship tend to be really connected, and they are often a great resource once you begin searching for a job.
Finding a mentor in college is one of the best ways to receive informed, helpful guidance. Keep in mind, it’s okay to have more than one mentor. Cast your net wide, and try several of the approaches above. You really can’t have too many people in your corner as you navigate your college years and prepare to enter the working world.