As a college student, you are called upon to make a lot of decisions about your future. What should you major in? What career path should you choose? Which entry level position is better? These questions can be tough to answer on your own, given your limited experience. This is where having a mentor can come in handy. A good mentor can help guide you as you finish college, choose internships, and enter the working world. Here’s a closer look at the benefits of having a mentor, along with a few helpful tips for finding one.
Benefits of Having a Mentor in College
Every mentor-mentee relationship is a bit different. In general, however, students enjoy the following benefits when they work with a mentor.
- Course Guidance
A mentor who has navigated a career path similar to your own can help you choose the classes that will set you up for success. They may also recommend certain courses they feel will broaden your horizons or open up other career options for you.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Indeed, having good connections can help you land the right positions once you graduate. Your mentor is one connection in your network, and they can also introduce you to other people who may be interested in hiring you or offering internship experience.
- Interview and Resume Guidance
From creating resumes to interviewing well, there’s a lot to know about the job searching process. A mentor can help you fine-tune your resume, polish your interviewing skills, and otherwise navigate this stage of life.
Finding a Mentor
So, you’re convinced you do, in fact, need a mentor. How do you go about finding one? College students have found their mentors in all sorts of different ways, but here are some suggestions to get you started.
Many colleges offer programs designed specifically for students seeking mentors. You may be able to sign up for such a program, meet with several potential mentors, and then continue building a relationship with the mentor you mesh with the best.
Joining a major-specific club at your college can be another good way to find a mentor, particularly if that club is advised by faculty or professionals in the field. For example, as an engineering major, joining the school’s engineering club may put you in touch with some local engineers.
Most colleges have alumni associations. Contact yours, and ask if they have a list of alumni who have agreed to help mentor students. This is a good way to find a mentor who not only shares your career path, but attended the same college as you and can relate to your in-school experiences.
Internships and Externships
If you’re able to find an internship or externship, this is an excellent way to find a mentor. Your mentor does not have to be the person you work directly under, either. If you meet someone else who seems to share your career goals and passions, don’t hesitate to ask them if they’d be willing to mentor you. Most experienced professionals will be happy to guide you.
Finding a mentor can be one of the most helpful steps you take during your college years. Many mentors and mentees remain in contact for many years beyond college — sometimes for a lifetime. Navigating your career will be easier with someone more experienced to offer feedback and guidance along the way.