One of the first things that you should do in college is to seek a mentor. A mentor will help you maximize your college experience and advise you on career opportunities. It may seem like a daunting proposition to find someone who can serve in this capacity, but most experienced professionals are eager to fill the role. If you get involved on campus and reach out to people that you admire, you’ll be surprised at the warm reception. Once you find a mentor, work hard to develop the relationship and be sure to show your appreciation.
Benefits of Having a Mentor in College
There are many advantages of seeking mentorship in college. As you navigate the college scene, you’re likely to have questions about personal, social and academic issues. A mentor can help you find the answers and point you in the direction of campus resources. For example, if you’re facing a personal hardship, a mentor can help you talk through the issue, or refer you to the campus counseling center. College is a time for growth and development. A mentor can push you to develop new skills and help you find new opportunities for growth. Opportunities to work on research projects, serve as an intern or even land a campus job often come as a result of a mentoring relationship.
Develop Relationships with Faculty
Faculty commonly serve as mentors to students. Meet with your professors individually to get to know them and so that they can learn more about you. You’ll know if you click, if the professor encourages you to continue to meet with them. Don’t be afraid to volunteer to work alongside them on a special project or ask them about ways that you can do more to learn about your major. If you make the effort to cultivate a relationship, you may be rewarded by a connection that could last a lifetime.
Contact the Alumni Relations Office
Many colleges have established mentorship programs that match current students with successful alumni. Even if your college doesn’t have a formal program, the alumni staff is likely to assist you in connecting with a graduate that would like to be a mentor for college students. An alum can give you valuable advice about the working world and what it will take to be successful. The relationship may also open the door to internship and career opportunities.
Network With Other Professionals
Don’t be afraid to meet with a professional in your chosen career field. If you’re torn between two majors, ask to shadow a professional in each field. Networking with other professionals will help you open the door to a future mentorship opportunity. If you meet someone that seems like a good match, send an e-mail or letter to ask them if they would be interested in serving as a mentor for college students. The burden of initiating the relationship is on you, but the ongoing connection should be reciprocal.
Get Involved on Campus
It’s important to get involved on campus in a variety of organizations. Start with clubs in your academic major and then, look for other clubs that fit your personal interests. Most college organizations have a faculty or staff advisor. If you regularly attend meetings and help out with events, you will have the opportunity to connect on an informal level. This type of interaction is a great way to forge a mentorship relationship.
Be a Standout Student
Do your best to be a standout on campus. If you excel in school and are a leader, you’ll be recognized as a rising star. Often, faculty and staff are on the lookout for students that have potential and drive. As you excel in a variety of roles, you’ll be tapped for other opportunities. The wider that you cast your net, as a go getter in college, the more likely you’ll be to find a variety of mentors. It’s great to have more than one mentor, so that you can learn from a variety of perspectives.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.