Are you a college student? Here’s how to find a career mentor

Sep 24, 2018 by

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Going to college is a well-trodden path to getting on the career ladder. From the transferable skills that a degree provides to the specific knowledge that a vocational college course can impart, there are plenty of advantages to picking the college route. In fact, statistics show that around 96% of college graduates are in employment – suggesting that it’s a surefire route to employment success.

However, moving from college to job isn’t as simple as it might seem – especially if you’re on a course that doesn’t have an obvious employment end-point, such as medicine or nursing. If as a student, you’ve got some questions about where to go, one smart move might be to find a mentor. By asking someone who’s gone through the process themselves your questions, you’ll give yourself a fighting chance of finding out what you want to do – and how to get there. Here, then, are some of the main ways to find a mentor.

Look online

As with so many aspects of modern life, the answer may well lie on the internet. There are lots of ways to find a job mentor online: one of the most obvious ones is to look on LinkedIn at senior leaders in the industries you’re considering, and approaching any who are in your local area. This will perhaps produce the most targeted possibilities, but it’s also not the most personal approach – and for busy people, the invitation may simply be ignored. It’s also not easy to reach out to strangers, and you may feel awkward.

Perhaps a more useful way to do it is to offer a service of your own in return for mentorship services from someone who is more senior. Do you have some spare time to do some office work over the college vacations, for example? Can you work remotely for an hour or two a week with a skill such as writing or coding? If so, you may find that this is a more organic and natural way to get into an organization and find someone there who can mentor you. Even just a week or two of assistance during a busy period can show lots of willingness on your part, so it will most likely pay off in the future.

Consider group mentorship

There’s no need to restrict yourself to individual mentors, either. Joining the Sigma Chi or a similar fraternity allows you to benefit from the expertise of a group of people rather than an individual or two. This also allows you to mitigate a key risk of finding a mentor. If you don’t click with your one mentor, finding a new one is time-consuming. However, with a group’s brains to pick, you’ll always be able to shift the balance and create a core group of mentors with whom you do genuinely connect. 

Ask your network

Even if your own network is currently quite small, it may also be worth exploring the connections you do currently have. Asking family members and family friends is often a good way to do this, as there’s a good chance that someone will know someone who fits the bill. Family members are usually the most likely to offer their time to help you find someone, so it’s in some ways a better option than cold-calling companies or using LinkedIn.

For some people, the prospect of asking around their preexisting networks to find a mentor can seem like a pointless exercise. If your family aren’t involved in the professional spheres that you are considering entering, then it may not be worth spending time on finding a mentor this way. However, think long and hard about the other communities that you’ve been part of in the past. If you had a high school teacher you really clicked with, for example, then it may be worth sending them an email. They may have a college friend of their own who would make a perfect candidate for your new mentor!

Going to college has long been known as a route to secure employment, and it’s one of the main reasons that people decide to go. However, with more and more college students finding themselves with questions about what profession to enter and how to go about doing it, finding a mentor is a smart move before plunging into the job market. From thinking about group mentorship to exploring the worlds of LinkedIn and other internet-based professional opportunities, there are all kinds of ways to find a mentor.

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