Why You Need a Mentor
Kizzy talks about her mentor and provides tips on finding a mentor of your own.
By Kizzy Preston
March 01, 2012
When I first graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, I was confused. While I had a sense of accomplishment, I also wondered what my next step should be. After a year of agonizing over how to advance my career, I decided to go to graduate school.
Surely after completing a Master’s degree my future endeavors would be laid out in front of me like a yellow brick road. There would be no confusion, only accomplishment after accomplishment. I guess I don’t have to tell you, that this ideal situation didn’t happen. After receiving my Master’s degree, yes I had obtained new skills, but I was still flailing.
Enter my mentor, Deesha Philyaw, co-author of the forthcoming book, “CoParenting 101: Advice from a Formerly Married Couple on Parenting Across Two Households” (New Harbinger, 2013)
Let me back up to say that a mentor is someone who has the type of career you would like to have. You work with this person and they help to guide you, as you accomplish your goals.
Philyaw was a professor in my Master of Professional Writing degree program at Chatham University. Throughout not just my classes with her, but my entire program she was always extremely helpful, and went above and beyond the job of being my professor.
After graduation, although afraid, I asked Philyaw to be my mentor, and she happily agreed. Since then she has been a great source of information, and inspiration.
Why You Need A Mentor:
The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama talks about the importance of mentors in the newest issue of More magazine. She says of her own mentor, "She stood out for me, not just because she was African American but [because] she was a professional…and she was a very passionate person who was committed to working in the community. She encouraged me to start a day-care program for some of the faculty members’ and staff members’ children. And I would have never done that without her encouragement.”
Mentors are a great resource to have because they usually have been where you would like to go. They know the steps you need to take, and often have ideas that you maybe have never thought of. So rather than walking blindly into your career path, a mentor can guide you.
Mentors are also great for being a reference on your résumé or writing a reference letter on your behalf, motivating you when you feel like quitting, finding resources or teaching you how to find the information yourself, helping you with your job search, and many other areas.
Where to Find Your Mentor:
At school— Do you have a favorite professor, or advisor? Do you look at them and wonder how they accomplished all that they have? Perhaps this would be a good person to ask to mentor you.
Internship—Usually you intern at the type of company where you would like to work after graduation. Your internship supervisor may be a great option for a mentor in that they work in the industry you desire to work in. They can give you a lot of valuable information.
Volunteering— If you volunteer for organizations that align with your passions and goals, you are bound to meet someone who would make a great mentor.
Student groups— There are often various student groups on campus that are based on certain professions such as the: Marketing Association, Literary Journals, MBA student groups etc. A mentor can be found either in the professor overseeing the group, or even in a fellow classmate. The mentor doesn’t have to be a lot older than you. Sometimes a person in graduate school would make a great mentor for someone who is an undergraduate.
Remember the goal is to pick someone as your mentor, who has a career like the one you desire to have. Their guidance will be worth so much more than you can imagine.