Navigating college can be challenging at times. You’re taking multiple classes, applying for internships, exploring job opportunities – and so much more. How do you not only survive, but succeed and excel in your college experience? One option is to find a mentor.
A mentor is a more experienced student or professional who you can turn to for advice and guidance. Some students find a mentor through their degree program. Others meet their mentors through an honors program like NSCS. Regardless of how you initially connect with your mentor, here are a few ways in which they can help you succeed.
In most degree programs, there are core classes that every student has to take. There are also elective classes that you can choose to take. You’ll want to choose electives that broaden your knowledge and expose you to ideas that will be useful to understand later on. Knowing which ones are the best fit is not always easy. A mentor can tell you what electives they chose and how those classes served them. They can also steer you away from classes that may be less useful.
Applying for Internships and Jobs
When you first start applying for internships and jobs, the process will feel rather unfamiliar. You may have questions about how to answer certain questions, how to present yourself in an interview, and how to find positions you’re eligible for. Your mentor likely will have navigated similar application processes before. They can give you guidance, point you towards the best resources, and even help you practice your speaking skills via some mock interviews.
NSCS Mentoring Program
Included in an NSCS membership is the opportunity to participate in the NSCS Mentoring Program. The Scholar Central member community will help match you to the best fit mentor, provide a framework for how to interact with your mentor, and milestones along the way to ensure you are achieving your goals. If you would like to join NSCS, please visit info.nscs.org/mentorship-lp.org.
College is when you start building a network. This means connecting with others in your field, and perhaps also people in other fields that complement your own. Your mentor can be the person who opens up the world of network building to you. Not only can they offer you network-building advice, but they can also introduce you to colleagues and contemporaries. Some of these people may tell you about job openings, make you aware of internships, or serve as references when you apply for various positions.
Every college program is different. If your friends and peers are in a different degree program than you, they may not be able to relate to all of the challenges you face at college. A mentor who is further along in your program or a similar one – or someone who graduated from a similar program a few years ago – can be a compassionate listener when you need to voice your frustrations. They’ll likely empathize with a lot of what you’re going through, and they’ll probably have some realistic, actionable advice.
It’s a classic interview question: what are your weaknesses? Many people don’t quite know how to answer this question at first. But identifying your weaknesses is a great way to grow and improve, and it’s best if you can identify those weaknesses in a low-stress environment, such as in a meeting with your mentor. Just by interacting with you and talking with you about your education and experience, a mentor is often able to tell you what areas you should focus on improving. For instance, they may notice that you don’t speak very confidently and give you some suggestions for working on that.
A great mentor can take your college experience from average to awesome. Mentorship opportunities are one of the features we’re most proud of at NSCS. Consider becoming a member, and gain access to some of the best mentors, internships, scholarships, and more.