College is more than an opportunity to take classes. It’s a chance to learn what your strengths are, and to work on improving your weaknesses. It’s a chance to explore different industries, gain leadership experience, and make lifelong friends. College is also a good time to find a mentor — someone who can guide you as you make decisions about classes, entering the workforce, and applying for internships. Why is it so important to find a college mentor? Here are a few key reasons.
To get an experienced perspective.
When you have a college mentor, there is always someone who you can bounce ideas off of, ask questions, and discuss career-related plans with. Mentors are typically professionals who are experienced in the field. A such, they have a much different perspective than you — someone who is just entering that field. They can bring up details you may not have considered yet. They can also give you insight into how the decision you’re making right now might impact you years down the road. Some of their perspective will come from their own life experience, but often, your mentor can also share things that have happened to their colleagues and friends.
To form connections.
Many students find their first full-time job after graduation through a person in their network. Working with a mentor is a great way to start forming that network. Of course your mentor themselves will become a part of that network, but they can also connect you to others in the industry. For example, if you tell them you’re thinking of working in robotics, they may be able to introduce you to a colleague of theirs who works in robotics. As your network grows, you will have more and more people to reach out to for job opportunities and the like.
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.
To improve self-confidence.
It’s common for students to feel overwhelmed by all that they have going on. Your classes are hard. Your internship is demanding. You’re trying to maintain a social life and meet new people. When you feel overloaded, it is easy for your self-confidence to start waning. However, a mentor can help bring things back into perspective for you. They can reassure you that you are taking valuable steps towards your future. They can also help you see, in a more balanced way, how well you really are doing in spite of these challenges. Maintaining your self-confidence is so important for your overall mental health.
To assist with goal-setting.
Setting goals as a college student is a great way to keep yourself on-track and motivated. However, it is not always easy to tell what goals you should set. A mentor can help with this. You should be able to come to your mentor with goals you have in mind. Your mentor can help you determine whether those goals are realistic, and whether they are challenging enough to keep you motivated. A mentor may also recommend setting some other goals that you would not have thought of on your own. Then, they can work with you to break those goals down into specific, manageable steps that you can take on a daily or weekly basis.
Navigating college is not always easy, and it shouldn’t be! It’s often the challenges you face that help you improve your skills and become a better person. The good news is that you don’t have to navigate those challenges alone. Having a good college mentor or mentors in your corner can really help. So, reach out to professors, leaders in your community, and contacts in your honors society to find a mentor who is a good fit.