When you enter college, you should start looking for an academic mentor. An academic mentor is someone that will help you with advice about classes to take or how to get into graduate school. These types of mentors can be Academic Advisors or they can be older students in your clubs, classes, or residence halls. Some colleges offer to set freshmen up with junior or senior mentors (if this is offered at your college you should take advantage of this amazing program). Older, more experienced students are beneficial people to ask for advice in academics. If you think you may be in the wrong major, find a mentor in another major you may be interested in. They can tell you what they enjoy about the classes they are taking, what they plan on doing after graduation, or why they recommend the major. This will help give you a sense of whether you would enjoy that field of study.
Academic advisors are very useful resources as well. There may be academic advisors for your entire college or advisors for every department. Academic advisors are very knowledgeable about the classes offered and can help recommend courses that will be beneficial to you. These are also good people to ask about transferring college credits (from high school or community college) or which classes you should take if you are an undecided major. The best part is that you can get their help and advice free of charge. So, why not spend 30 minutes of your time checking in with an advisor at least once a year to make sure you are on track to graduate when you want to.
Professional mentors are very valuable. Professional mentors can be a work supervisor, college professor, alumni, or anyone else that can help you in the job market. Look for someone where you are interning or working to be your mentor. Let’s say that you befriend a person who has worked for three years as an administrative assistant to the Executive Vice President of the company. This person will be able to help you out with finding your way around the workplace, meeting new people, giving you tips on how to survive your new boss, or even presenting you with information about problems between workers.
Having a mentor in the workplace is very important and beneficial, but you do not need to go looking for one or asking everyone in your office. If you present yourself in a professional manner, with a smile and enthusiastic willingness to learn, one of your co-workers or your supervisor may offer to help you out. They will not necessarily say, “I will be your mentor,” but they may give you important insider tips and advice or they could introduce you to people and help you expand your network of connections.
To learn more about the value of mentors, read Marshall Brown's Having a Mentor Can Help