Do you have a mentor? If not, perhaps it’s time to find one. After all, mentoring doesn’t just have merits in the workplace. There are many ways that a student could benefit from connecting with a more experienced person in their field.
Read on to learn more about mentoring and why it might be right for you.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is someone with a specific set of skills and significant experience who agrees to provide free support to someone else. Usually, this person wants to follow in their mentor’s footsteps.
Mentoring can occur in a range of environments, although it’s commonly thought of as a workplace relationship in modern times. For example, in a business, a seasoned professional might take a new recruit under their wing and guide them through the induction process.
This relationship could be short-term, or it could continue indefinitely. It could have a formal dynamic, with regular meetings and agreed-upon milestones, or it could take the form of casual check-ins.
What’s in it for them?
You might wonder why a mentor would want to give their time and knowledge to another person. Usually, this relationship is considered to be mutually beneficial. Acting as a mentor can help someone develop management and leadership skills, for example.
The mentee may also have skills they can share with their mentor. Some companies have initiated “reverse mentorship” programs, where experienced employees guide their younger colleagues through traditional workplace challenges in exchange for support in areas like social media.
What makes a good mentor?
A good mentor is available to their mentee. They have relevant knowledge and a sincere desire to provide support. They’re open to sharing their experiences honestly and skilled in developing others through listening, giving constructive feedback, and provoking reflection.
Why might a student need a mentor?
Studying is an amazing experience. However, it can also be a challenging one. A mentor can provide a student with personal support throughout the ups and downs of academia. This can reinforce a student’s sense of resilience.
As students learn new things, they may wish to discuss their ideas with someone who shares their interests. An experienced mentor can help them understand how the concepts they learn in the classroom will translate to the workplace.
Some students look for internship opportunities or part-time work to supplement their studies. Mentors in their field may be able to connect them to relevant opportunities that will help advance their careers.
A mentor is also likely to attend events and conferences related to the mentor’s subject of interest. A mentee might be able to accompany them on these excursions, or at least learn more about them through their mentor.
5 benefits of having a mentor
1. A sounding board for your ideas.
When you have a mentor, you have someone to discuss your plans with. Because they understand your field of interest, they’ll be able to provide relevant and informed feedback.
During studies and the earliest years of a career, it can be difficult to decide which path to take. A mentor knows which questions to ask to encourage reflection, and they can support you to make smart decisions when it comes to your future.
2. A confidence boost in moments of self-doubt.
As you learn and try new things, it’s understandable to have periods of insecurity. A mentor can share their experiences and reassure you about your progress.
The close relationship between a mentor and a mentee can be a source of confidence. Knowing that your mentor believes in you encourages you to step out of your comfort zone.
3. A network of connections.
Your mentor is already established in your field of interest, but you aren’t. Whether you need to talk to an industry insider regarding a job opportunity or an academic to inform your research project, your mentor is more likely to know these people already.
Throughout their years of experience, they will have accumulated a network of connections. You could benefit from gaining access to these contacts.
4. An appreciation of potential opportunities.
Because you’re new to your field of interest, you may not know where to look when it comes to seeking new opportunities. Your mentor will. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction and open your eyes to possibilities that you hadn’t previously considered.
They’ll also be able to tell you what worked and what didn’t in their own career. This information will help you to weigh up the opportunities you’re offered in yours.
5. An alternative perspective.
You may think you don’t need a mentor. Maybe you already have plenty of friends to discuss your life plans with. However, getting to know someone beyond your typical social group can be a very enriching experience.
A mentor provides advice from an alternative perspective. People with different backgrounds and experiences bring their own unique wisdom, and through discussion, you may generate unique ideas together.
How to find a mentor:
The first step in finding a mentor is to see if there are any formal mentorship programs available, either online or through your educational institution.
If you can’t find one that meets your needs, you might consider approaching a trusted teacher. If they have time, they may offer to be your mentor. Alternatively, they may be able to connect you with someone in your field of interest.
By attending events related to your field of interest, you can broaden your network of connections. In addition, these people can help spread the word that you’re looking for a mentor.
You should get to know your potential mentor and establish expectations before confirming your mentor-mentee relationship. This ensures that nobody is left disappointed by the dynamic. A good idea, for example, is to clarify how and how often you will be in contact.
Now you know how valuable a mentor can be, no matter what stage you’re at in your career. During your studies, a mentor can still be an incredible resource. You won’t want to miss out on the benefits that this useful relationship can bring to your academic, personal, and professional life.