The Importance of Mentors While in College

By: Kiara

As a college student, it can be beneficial to have a mentor when you find yourself struggling to make a decision or are in need of encouragement. Even though I haven’t had a formal mentor in college yet, I have often asked older students in my workplace and in my extracurricular activities for advice. This has greatly helped me throughout my first year of college to stay motivated and achieve my goals. I think anyone can be a mentor since there is always something new to learn from each person you meet. Being able to talk to someone you trust who has experienced similar things as you can help you gain valuable advice, learn new perspectives, and advance your career. 

Image: book shelves at an angle with lit lightbulbs dangling from ceiling
Text: The importance of mentors while in college.

Gain Valuable Advice
In any unfamiliar situation whether it’s a new job, class, or club it’s important to reach out to others and ask for advice. An official or an unofficial mentor can answer your questions and clarify any confusion. For example, when I started my job at Career & Internship Services more experienced staff members helped me learn the office procedures and expectations. Mentors who share their stories with you can help you figure out your own life and you can also learn from their experiences. Asking upperclassmen about what classes to take, what clubs to join, or any type of assistance in general can aid you in navigating these new situations. It can be comforting to know that someone else has been in your place and understands your challenges. It’s also reassuring to have someone who listens to your academic difficulties or personal problems and can help you plan for your future. 

Learn New Perspectives
Having a mentor can open up new perspectives in the process of sharing ideas and asking questions. Mentors may have qualities in common with yourself and may also have qualities you would like to develop. Qualities I aspire to have from some of the people I look up to include being more outgoing, patient, and a better listener. Mentors can also challenge you to consider different points of view to help you see the bigger picture. This can give you the opportunity to see the positive side of an adverse situation. Additionally, having an outside perspective can shed light on potential difficulties or bring up other valid points to consider when making an important decision.

Advance Your Career
A mentor can advance your career by growing your network of contacts.  Specifically, mentors can connect you to opportunities they have had in the past such as rewarding internships or jobs. Students who are pursuing the same career path or major as you can give you great insight about what their experiences have been like and what they have learned. I have learned that a mentor can also help you identify your own strengths and weaknesses and can aid you in improving upon those qualities.  Having someone you can turn to for career advice can assist you in choosing your major and deciding your career path. For instance, talking to someone with more experience can teach you about careers you didn’t know even existed or inspire you to stay focused on your current career track. Learning from others taught me the importance of being open to advice and suggestions which can help us avoid drawbacks and make better decisions. 

Building a network of mentors can not only help you in college, but can also provide you with support and guidance later in life. I am thankful for the advice I have received from my unofficial mentors since they have helped me learn from my mistakes and prepared me for the future. Overall, formal or informal mentors can assist you in accomplishing your goals within your personal and professional life.

Of Possible Interest:
Mentors: Be One; Have One
• NetworkingOn the Job – all our blog posts on these topics
• Key to NetworkingNow that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest boards filled with resources & articles

Read Kiara’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Janko Ferlic

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